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Hawks fly with, but not ahead of Cecil

February 03, 2008|By Bob Parasiliti

The Hagerstown Community College men's basketball team thought it had the remedy for Cecil's style of play on Saturday.

But in the long run, the Seahawks owned the cure.

The Hawks stayed within a half-step of the No. 1-rated team in Division II junior college basketball, but Cecil was a little too potent and claimed a 98-90 victory at the HCC athletic complex.

"We came out and gave them a taste of their own medicine," HCC coach Ryan Devlin said. "But, in the end, their medicine was a little more potent."

HCC led only once but never trailed by more than eight points in a game that moved back and forth faster than Bode Miller on a slalom course.

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The pace was fast and the inside play was fierce, but in the long run, Cecil was a little faster and a little fiercer than the Hawks as the two teams combined to have eight players with four fouls each.

"I was watching North Carolina play and a lot of teams like Georgia Tech and Maryland went in and played smash-mouth against them," Devlin said. "We tried to do that. We looked to push them to the rim. We forced them to play zone against us. I've scouted them and have never seen them do that before."

The symptoms were there for a Hagerstown upset, but the Hawks couldn't cause an epidemic.

Cecil (21-0) came out running, maybe a step faster than HCC is accustomed to, and bolted to a 9-4 lead. The Hawks pulled back on the tempo some and got two inside hoops from Will Taylor and an outside shot by Q'Monte Matheny to take a 10-9 lead -- their only one of the game -- at the 15:44 mark.

From there, HCC managed just two ties -- one in each half -- the rest of the way.

Cecil did just enough to stay ahead of HCC, but couldn't pull away and the Hawks used an 8-2 run to close the first half to pull within 49-47 at intermission.

The second half turned into a turf war of inside power and slashes to the basket. The Seahawks shoved to a 56-49 lead to start the half, led by two baskets by Antonio Haymon, before the Hawks pushed back with a 6-0 run to move back within 56-55.

Each team drew from something different to stay in the game. Cecil relied on its foul shooting after HCC put the Seahawks in the bonus with 14:17 remaining. Cecil hit 23 of 29 shots in the second half.

Meanwhile, Matheny stepped up, running the offense and hitting the big shots HCC needed to stay in the game. The freshman from Martinsburg, W.Va., scored 17 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, including eight straight to move the Hawks into a 68-68 tie with 12:00 remaining.

"He's the little big man," Devlin said. "I pick on him about his size, but he came to life. Sometimes you have to go to your hot hand and you have to sacrifice for the good of the team."

Cecil kept close guard on HCC's leading scorer Kelvin Bright, who managed 26 points, but needed to hit 12 of 16 foul shots to get it.

The Seahawks maintained their precarious lead, staying just ahead of the Hawks. Cecil held HCC to one shot on many occasions.

HCC was within 89-87 on Anthony Perez's layup with 1:50 to play. Cecil answered with a Josiah Whitehead layup and a Robert Lowery breakaway to re-establish its hold and used 8 of 9 foul shots in the last minute to salt the game away.

Kevin Palmer led Cecil with 26 points while Lowery added 24. Will Taylor had nine points and nine rebounds and John Long had nine points and eight rebounds for HCC.

"The boys played hard," Devilin said. "This isn't a setback. (Cecil was) averaging 99 points and giving up only 72 a game. We ran right with them, but they beat us on the boards. We wanted to compete tonight, but we wanted to compete and win. We didn't win tonight, but we got the taste of this loss and hopefully it will make us a better team."

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