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Marsh helps make HCC men mellow

February 08, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

Mike Marsh returned to Hagerstown Community College bearing gifts.

He gave men's basketball coach Kenny Keyes some explosion in his offense. He gave center Leon Nelson some candy - because Marsh mellowed him. And most of all, he gave the Hawks a much-needed win.

Marsh returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing 12 games with eligibility issues to score 21 points while lifting the Hawks' quality of play - especially Nelson's - to lead HCC to a 92-82 victory over Anne Arundel.

You could say Marsh even gave to the Pioneers, even though it was a headache.

"Getting Mike back is the difference," Keyes said. "He gives some oomph at the No. 3 spot that we've needed. He gets out there and plays defense, too."

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But Marsh's biggest difference to the Hawks may not have been his play as much as it was his ability to be a safety net for his good friend Nelson.

And Nelson celebrated by scoring 22 points against the scrappy Pioneers, including HCC's first 10 of the game.

"We finally got that kind of game out of Leon," Keyes said. "He's got Mike back now. They are the Buffalo Connection. They grew up together and played together all their lives. Mike is his boy and he stepped up tonight."

HCC (6-16) found a way to get inside on Anne Arundel, which presented problems for the Hawks with its size and shooting ability.

Nelson's play opened the door for HCC's John Long to also aggressively attack the basket. Long added 20 points, including four dunks - two off alley-oop passes - to give the Hawks the upper hand on the physical play underneath.

Still, the Pioneers hung tough with their jump shooting. They turned to Brandon Abney, who leads the Maryland JuCo Conference with his 25-point scoring average, and James Davidson, who is a dangerous 3-point threat.

HCC used a 10-0 run late in the first half to take a 41-29 lead, but Abney scored Anne Arundel's last seven to bring the Pioneers within four at 45-41 at the half.

The Hawks opened the second half with a 13-3 run, led by Marsh with seven points and Tommy Cox with six to get a 58-44 lead they protected for much of the second half.

Anne Arundel chipped way until getting back within five at 83-78 with 2:37 remaining to force Keyes to call time.

"I had to get them turned around and to play defense," Keyes said. "When we get up, we relax and let them get back into the game."

Anne Arundel still closed in, staying with in three at 83-80 and 85-82 until Marquis Waters hit a pair of free throws with :51 remaining to start HCC on a game-closing 7-0 run to chalk up the victory.

Marsh's defensive play helped HCC's cause as he covered Abney in the second half, holding him to 10 of his 23 points for the game. Still, Davidson led all scorers with 28, including four 3s.

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