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'Diaper Dandy' Thompson pampers Hawks

Freshman leads HCC over Allegany

Freshman leads HCC over Allegany

November 29, 2007|By CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

If ESPN personality Dick Vitale had dropped by the Hagerstown Community College athletic complex Wednesday night to witness the final minute of the Hawks' women's basketball game against Allegany College, he likely would have classified Cara Thompson as a "Diaper Dandy."

Vitale coined the term to describe an outstanding freshman, and it certainly would have fit for Thompson, who blocked the potential go-ahead shot, hauled in the clinching rebound and hit four free throws - all in the last 30 seconds - to help the Hawks edge the Trojans 61-58 in the Maryland JuCo Conference opener for both teams.

"I have to say, about all of our freshmen, that they don't play like it," Hawks coach Marlys Palmer said. "They have been playing so well, so confident. ... They're just gutty. Because of that, I expected Cara to go to the line and make those foul shots."

Hagerstown (7-0, 1-0) trailed for much of the second half, but found itself ahead 57-56 in the final minute - which was when Thompson shined. The Hawks freshman guard made the biggest play of the game when she blocked a layup by Jasmine Blanks that would have regained the lead for Allegany (4-1, 0-1).

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"I saw (Blanks) going for the breakaway layup and (Shawayna Morel) was on the other side of me, so I just stayed with the ball," said Thompson, who finished with 11 points. "I didn't expect to block it. I was just hoping to disrupt it a little bit."

The 5-foot-10 Thompson made it look easy as she simply raised her arm to Blanks, who stands four inches shorter, and slammed the ball to the court. She came up big at the other end of the floor, hitting both ends of a 1-and-1 - her first points of the second half - to give the Hawks a 59-56 lead with 18 seconds left.

Still, the threat was not gone.

Blanks regrouped and drove to the hoop for a basket, drawing a foul on LaToya Buckner for a chance to tie the game with 4 seconds left. But her foul shot went off the back iron - Allegany hit just 4 of 13 free throws - and Thompson was there for the rebound.

"I wanted that rebound," Thompson said.

She hit two more foul shots to take the lead to 61-58, and Morel intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass to seal the game.

"Our first four games were tough, they were real nailbiters," Palmer said. "Being in those games helped us tonight. Honestly, I thought Allegany was the more aggressive team and they showed no signs of giving up."

The Hawks were in danger of losing their No. 9 ranking in the latest NJCAA Division II women's basketball poll, which was released earlier Wednesday. A basket by Melissa Ford gave Allegany a 45-38 lead - the biggest of the night - with 10 minutes left in the game. After a timeout, the Hawks went on a 10-2 run for their first lead of the second half at 48-47. The lead changed hands four times over the last six minutes, but never grew to more than one possession.

"At halftime we knew it was going to be a slugfest between two very good basketball teams," Palmer said. "What we were going to need is a defensive stop. Don't worry about offense, just focus on getting a defensive stop."

The Hawks got the stops, and the offense reaped the benefits. Morel was a catalyst on both sides with team highs of 11 rebounds, six steals and six assists to go with her eight points. Alicia Myers hit a crucial 3-pointer in the final minutes and finished with 12 points. Buckner also had 12 points, while grabbing eight rebounds.

Ford led Allegany with 16 points, Blanks had 14 and Kacey Kahl added 10.

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