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Youthful Hawks must earn wings

November 11, 2005|by JACK HILL III / Staff Correspondent

Hagerstown Community College women's basketball coach Marlys Palmer won't be seeing any familiar faces from last year's 16-12 team. All 11 players on this year's roster are newcomers.

"My outlook is hopeful, but I have got all of these freshmen," Palmer said. "Right now, we are inexperienced. ... You have a situation where you have no returning leadership and nobody knows the system. So, you are starting from square one."

Despite the youth and inexperience, Palmer feels the Hawks have some positives.

"We have some size and some strength," Palmer said. "They are a very smart and coachable group. They have picked things up quick. We have some players that are used to winning and that is a point of emphasis. I think that just helps the confidence level of the team. When you have a couple of players coming from winning traditions, I think that should help. We know how to win."

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The Hawks have one sophomore transfer - forward Cristi Bartlett (Camden, N.C.), who played at Winthrop last year.

Of HCC's 10 freshmen, eight are from the Tri-State area, including two centers from Williamsport: Lindsey Plotner and Chrissy Minnick.

Martinsburg forwards Jamie Robinson, Erika Williams and Sara Davidson join guards Samantha Cain (Southern Fulton), Heidi Stull (Catoctin) and Tasha Deneen (St. Maria Goretti).

Guards Marisa Elliot (Delone Catholic, McSherrystown, Pa.) and Raquita Davis (Booker T. Washington, Norfolk, Va.) round out the squad. Elliot was a three-time state champion at Delone.

"Right now, we are not playing a lineup with a true center," Palmer said. "We are playing a lineup with two forwards in Cristi Bartlett and Jamie Robinson. The three starting guards are Samantha Cain, Heidi Stull and Marisa Elliot. The next two players in line would be Chrissy Minnick and Raquita Davis. Lindsey Plotner will probably start, once she gets back from volleyball."

Even with an abundance of freshmen, Palmer believes the Hawks have the potential to soar.

"Anything is possible," Palmer said. "Historically, championships aren't won in the Maryland JuCo Conference with freshmen too often. I think our conference has gotten tougher. You don't have too many easy games in the conference. We are just going to take it one game at a time and improve with each game. I told the girls in practice, 'If you want to have a four-game winning streak, try to have it in March.'"

Palmer is joined on the sideline by new assistant coach Bernie Semler, who previously coached the Boonsboro girls.

"He has been involved in basketball one way or another for 30 years," Palmer said. "He has been coaching for many years at Boonsboro. He brings a wealth of experience and we are glad to have him."

HCC opens its season by hosting the Hagerstown Classic this weekend. On Saturday, Cincinnati State will play Allegany at 5 p.m. and the Hawks play Wilkes (N.C.) at 7. On Sunday, Wilkes will play Allegany at 1 and Cincinnati State and HCC tip off at 3.

"The players are working hard together," Palmer said. "They understand team basketball and I think that is important. I like what I see so far in preseason practice. We have looked decent so far in scrimmages."

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