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Hawks head off Catamounts

November 04, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Kenny Keyes was hoping the Hagerstown Community College basketball team would use its head this season.

Now, he's hoping the Hawks will learn to keep them.

HCC debuted in exciting fashion on Friday, but it was just a little more exciting than Keyes had hoped for in a 73-70 victory over Potomac State in the opening round of the Region XX Hall of Fame Tournament at the HCC athletic complex.

With the win, HCC advances to today's championship game against Essex at 5 p.m., while Potomac State faces Baltimore at 3 in the consolation game.

"They were hungry. They wanted to win," said Keyes, HCC's coach. "They just have to get smarter doing it."

The Hawks (1-0) used their trademark pressing style, tempered with some halfcourt play to control the Catamounts for the first 30 minutes. Unfortunately, HCC lost its temper in the final 10 minutes.

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Hagerstown led 61-49 with 10:09 remaining after Marcus Sugars' follow shot. From there, the Hawks lost a bit of their composure as Potomac State mounted an 11-0 run to close to within one at 61-60 with six minutes remaining.

The two teams traded baskets down the stretch, with the Catamount's Michael Walker scoring a three-point play with 22.9 seconds remaining to cut HCC's lead to 71-70.

"We shot too many 3s," Keyes said. "We shot too many in the first half, but made six of them. I told them that we wanted to work the ball inside out. They didn't make them in the second half and didn't get any offensive rebounds. (Guards Scott Spence and Ryan Henry) have to get smarter and we'll be OK."

The final 22.9 seconds became a strategic battle of positioning and timeouts, but no baskets. Tommy Cox hit a foul shot with 12 seconds remaining and Spence added another at the 5.4-second mark to give the Hawks a three-point lead.

Spence missed his second foul shot and Potomac State's Nate Hart got the rebound and charged upcourt. After fumbling his dribble, he fired up a late 25-foot effort that fell short to end the game.

HCC, playing without center Leon Nelson, who was sidelined with the flu, led by as many as 11 points early before using a 5-0 run in the final 90 seconds of the first half for a 44-33 advantage at intermission. Potomac State continued to threaten in the second half, but the Hawks were able to keep the Catamounts at arm's length.

Sugars led the Hawks with 17 points while Spence finished with 16 and Cox added 10. Walker topped Potomac State with 16.

"We started going for short jumpers and didn't get the ball inside," Keyes said. "Everyone wanted to be the hero. If we make those shots, we win easily. But we didn't and they got back into the game."

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