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Hawks silence Knights, Hobson

January 31, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER/Staff Correspondent

Montgomery College-Rockville coach Steve Hobson spent much of Wednesday night criticizing the Hagerstown Community College men's basketball defense from the sideline.

He could not do the same to the Hawks offense.

Kelvin Bright led Hagerstown with a game-high 31 points and John Long had 12 points and 14 rebounds as the Hawks won their sixth straight game by topping Rockville 83-68 in Maryland JuCo Conference action.

Of his 12 baskets, Bright hit 10 from inside the paint while hitting 7 of 11 foul shots. The 6-foot-5 guard scored 20 points in the second half.

"I like to establish the inside first by driving to the paint. If I have that going, I can also go to the jump shot. I don't like to be one-minded," Bright said. "As a team, we're definitely coming together and we're always working hard at getting stronger. We're not getting complacent out there."

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Sheridan Price had 11 points, Tyrone Hicks had 10 points and nine rebounds and Will Taylor had nine points for the Hawks (18-4, 12-2).

Hagerstown closed the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 38-27 lead. Rockville (13-8, 7-5) closed the gap to 46-41 on a pair of free throws by Donte Nicholas with 13:51 left in the game, but the Hawks answered with a 19-4 spurt -- capped by Long's outlet pass to Bright for an easy layup -- to push the lead to 65-46 with 6:50 remaining.

"My emphasis of the day was not about putting up points. It was about what we would do in the second half," said Hagerstown coach Ryan Devlin. "We even have 'Second-half effort' written on our board in the locker room because we've gone into halftime leading by 6 or 8 points and we'd find ourselves up two or tied later in the second half. The guys did a good job of recognizing that problem and correcting it."

The correction meant defection for Rockville. But it didn't stop Hobson, who continued to jab at the Hagerstown players -- perhaps trying to motivate his own -- as he repeatedly made comments like, "They can't play defense," and, "That's the worst defensive team I've seen."

Hobson was even called for a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct when he made a similar remark to Bright as he brought the ball across halfcourt.

"He was just jibber-jabbering," Bright said, "the whole time."

Hobson's squawks did not affect the Hawks, whose lead shrunk to no less than 13 points the rest of the game. Rockville committed 18 turnovers and hit just 27 of 73 shots (37 percent). Nicholas led the Knights with 25 points and 10 rebounds despite picking up his fourth foul with 13:43 left, while Bilal Baisa added 20 points.

"(Rockville) is always a good team," Devlin said. "I remember growing up, they didn't always have standout player, but they play as a unit. I commend (Hobson) for that. He's done that for years."

Devlin is seeing that same type of unity in his own squad of late. He said the Hawks are playing their best basketball of the season over the last two weeks, averaging 90.5 points per game during the stretch. But they face their toughest test this weekend when NJCAA Division II top-ranked Cecil College (20-0, 10-0) visits Saturday at 6 p.m.

"You hear all about Cecil, how good they are, and we'll be ready for them," Bright said. "This is what you play for."

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