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Hawks come up short vs. Essex

November 05, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

It may be Eastern Standard Time in this area, but the Hagerstown Community College men's basketball team are in an altogether different time zone.

"We are a 30-minute team right now," HCC coach Kenny Keyes said.

The Hawks seemed to be playing in a timely fashion on Saturday, but when the scoreboard clock struck 10 (minutes), HCC went into a standstill. Essex used pressure and guard Anatole Gboizo to turn the tide, changing a 44-27 halftime deficit into a 76-70 victory to win the Region XX Hall of Fame Tournament title at the HCC athletic complex.

Essex spent the final 27 1/2 minutes chipping away at HCC's early 20-point lead, moving within nine at 56-47 with 10 minutes remaining. The Knights outscored the Hawks 29-14 in the final quarter of the game to snatch the victory.

Gboizo did his part, scoring 19 of his 31 points in the second half as HCC wilted under the pressure of Essex's press.

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"We changed the tempo," Essex coach Tremain Byrd said. "I saved our press for the second half because I figured (HCC) would adjust to it at halftime. That's our style - uptempo - and that's our pace. They defended us well, but our one guard had a great night."

It was Gboizo, who never saw a shot or an angle he didn't like. The guard came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers and yet drove inside enough to get 21 foul shots, hitting 16, en route to his game-high total.

"He is our Latrell Sprewell," Byrd said. "He's better off the bench because he comes in and makes an impact. When he comes in, we tell the rest of the team that they have to keep up with him."

The Hawks (1-1) set the pace in the first half, pushing out to a 32-12 lead in the first 13 minutes. Tommy Cox opened the game and the HCC lead with nine of his 17 points as the Hawks' offense controlled the game.

But as the sand dropped through the hourglass, so did the Hawks' lead. Those were the plays of the Hawks' lives.

"This was typical junior college basketball," Keyes said. "We didn't have the legs to go back-to-back games. It's something we've got to work on."

Essex was down 17 at the half, cut the lead to 13 (53-40), then eight (59-51) with 8:20 remaining. HCC was forced out of its offense and was pushed, ironically, into a pace which was too fast for it to handle. The guards made turnovers while the big men forgot how to crash the backboards for rebounds.

Still, the Hawks led 63-53 with 7:03 remaining on Marquis Waters' two foul shots.

Then, HCC's 30 minutes of fame ran out.

Essex mounted a 15-0 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes to take a 68-63 lead. Tulekula Sabah scored seven of his 14 points and Gboizo added four to give the Knights their first lead since jumping ahead, 3-0.

"Their pressure defense changed everything," Keyes said. "They were down 20 and ended up wanting it more than we did. We aren't ready to handle pressure like that yet."

HCC tried to respond by raising the pace of its game, but failed to make a run in the final 3 1/2 minutes. The Hawks experienced similar problems in Friday's opener, watching an 11-point lead shrink to one before holding on for a 73-70 win over Potomac State.

"We tried to slow it down, but then we became a halfcourt team," Keyes said. "We are not good at that. We will be putting in another offense to help keep them moving to help them with that."

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