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HCC needs repeat showing to play again and again

March 04, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Community College men's basketball coach Kenny Keyes would like to be like an appreciative opera goer this weekend.

Right about now, Keyes is standing up and yelling, "Encore ... Encore" at the Hawks.

There would be nothing better for Keyes - and HCC, for that matter - if the Hawks could come up with a repeat performance, circa the last weekend in January, when they play in the Region XX Tournament at Frederick Community College.

HCC will face Garrett Community College on Saturday at 5 p.m. in the semifinal. And then, with a victory, the Hawks would move into the finals against top-seeded Allegany on Sunday at 3 in a fifth meeting between the two schools, which will decide which team advances as the Region XX representative to the NJCAA district tournament.

"We played them both and beat them in back-to-back games before," Keyes said. "If we play Garrett and beat them, hopefully the momentum will carry over. This is what we played the whole season for. It is the end of the journey. It's just a matter of if we want it to stop here or to keep it going."

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To keep it going, the Hawks will have to go back in the time machine to Jan. 29-31.

It was a time when HCC was arguably playing its best basketball. The Hawks hung on for a 73-72 win over Garrett on Jan. 29 before throttling Allegany 84-64 on Jan. 31 behind a breakout 48-point performance by David Miner.

But since then, HCC has been rather inconsistent. There's no need to go any further for proof than looking at the Region XX seedings. Allegany (21-7, .750) got the top seed - and the semifinal bye - on the strength of having a better overall winning percentage than HCC (20-9, .690).

"We came into those games after beating (nationally ranked and Maryland JuCo champion) Cecil and playing really well," Keyes said. "We'd rather have the bye, but we have to beat Garrett and hope the momentum carries over to the next day. The problem is if we can beat Garrett. We haven't been able to do that (in Region XX play)."

Garrett is the defending Region XX champ and poses a similar problem as Allegany for the Hawks. Both teams have height and would rather slow the game in order to pound the ball inside for easy baskets. HCC would rather run and gun.

"If we play the game in the 60s or 70s (point range), we will be in trouble," Keyes said. "We have to control the tempo of the game and get out and run."

That would mean a throwback to games from months gone by. When HCC was effective, it was stealing the ball and hitting 3-point shots. Both have been inconsistent qualities over the last month.

"Our offense comes out of our defense," Keyes said. "If we have the tempo, get steals and hit the 3s, we are unbeatable."

HCC showed its unbeatable side in the 20-point win over Allegany. The Hawks owned the tempo and hit 12 3s, including eight by Miner as he fell three points short of tying the school scoring record.

Since then, Miner has taken on more of a passing and setup role for the Hawks.

"David has to keep the defense up and he has to start hitting his 3s again," Keyes said of his 20-point-per-game scorer. "If we can shoot 3s and play defense, we could be regional champions. We have to win two games in a row."

Derek Fields backs Miner with 10 points per game while Momodou Jobe and Alonzo Patterson are averaging eight points. But maybe the biggest stat of all is that if HCC gets past Garrett, they are 2-2 against Allegany this season.

"All the Xs and Os have nothing to do with it now. ... It's all heart," Keyes said. "It's been 29 games already, so they should know all the Xs and Os by now. It comes down to having the heart to win."

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