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Hawks' sophomores turn up the 'D'

February 10, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Community College women's basketball coach Marlys Palmer sensed something favorable in the air on Wednesday.

"The way my team has been playing for the last two weeks, I've been smelling an upset coming," Palmer said.

Palmer's senses were on the mark because HCC's defense proved it had a nose for the ball.

The Hawks gave their six sophomores a proper sendoff in their final home game by buckling down on defense in the second half to make it stuffy for Cecil for a satisfying 65-54 Maryland JuCo Conference win.

"I'm doing really well right now," Palmer said. "That was an upset for us. We have 16 wins and we have won a lot of close games. That's because (the Hawks) understand what they need to do to win. Most coaches and players always say that they win because of their defense, but we truly do. We have to because we are only shooting 25 percent as a team."

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In Cecil, HCC (16-9, 9-6) knocked off the third-place team in Maryland JuCo.

Cecil was averaging 78 points per game. The Hawks, in comparison, sat in seventh place and were scoring just 62 per game.

Dee Brown scored 20 points in her final home game as a Hawk and Veronica Johnson added 14 in her HCC athletic complex swan song, but their scoring was made easier thanks to the play of Angela Orsini.

Orsini closed the curtain on her HCC home career with a career-high 15 points and five steals, and had a major hand in turning the game in the Hawks' favor with her backline defense in the zone set. Orsini was active in the alignment, tipping Cecil's passes over to teammates for steals to start fastbreaks.

She did her part on the offensive end, saving her scoring in situations when the Hawks needed it the most, hitting 12- to 15-foot pull-up jumpers to spearhead HCC's surge.

"I finally felt like I played up to my potential," Orsini said. "I thought I could in the past, but would never get there. This was my night. It was a great effort by the team. It was everyone."

HCC led 25-24 at the intermission before opening the second half with a 9-0 run as Orsini scored off a rebound and Johnson added three points. The Hawks couldn't enjoy prosperity though, allowing Cecil to get back within 36-35 with 12 minutes remaining.

The active interior defense disrupted Cecil's passing lanes and got Brown and Johnson out in the open floor with fastbreaks to keep HCC with the advantage.

"Angela and Jackie (Harshman) play tremendous interior defense," Palmer said. "They have been working really hard. At halftime, I told the team I thought (Cecil) was out of sync and if we could play defense for 20 minutes, we could beat them. I told them I smelled an upset, just go get it."

HCC maintained at least a three-point lead the rest of the way and began to pull away as Cecil found itself getting into foul problems. The Hawks led 50-44 by the time Cecil put them in the bonus and HCC closed the game by hitting 10 of 12 foul shots in the final 7:11.

Kema Dashiell led Cecil with 15 points while Shakeya Evans added 12.

Hamilton had nine rebounds and Ericka McDavid added seven boards for HCC. The Hawks' six sophomores - Orsini, Johnson, Dee Brown, Nicole Brown, Gina Harshman and Hamilton - combined to score 57 of HCC's 65 points.

"All six of them contributed and did it in times when we needed it," Palmer said. "All six of them have meant a lot to this program. This was Sophomore Night and it ended up truly being Sophomore Night."

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