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Hawks look to complete turnaround

March 01, 2008|By Bob Parasiliti

A national tournament berth might be the least of the Hagerstown Community College men's basketball team's worries heading into this weekend's Region XX tournament.

The Hawks seem to have many more domestic issues to contend with as the season continues to wind down.

For the team, it's a chance to put a bold finishing mark on a successful season. For coach Ryan Devlin, it might mean a chance to shorten his title.

"You don't see many teams go from eight wins to 20 wins in a season," Devlin said with a smile. "I still have that interim title before my name. I gotta win."

It's not exactly a difference of life and death, but a good run this weekend would affix a credibility stamp on the HCC program once again. It starts tonight when the second-seeded Hawks face third-seeded Garrett in the second semifinal game at 7 p.m. at the HCC athletic complex.

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The winner will advance to the finals and play the winner of the Allegany-Chesapeake semifinal at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

For HCC, success has shined through a season of many twists and turns. First the Hawks lost coach Terry Truax, who resigned from the position in December. Shortly after, the team was sapped by some academic ineligibility.

The whole process put Devlin in control and forced a few players - like point guard Q'Monte Matheny, a Martinsburg, W.Va., graduate - to step up into huge roles.

"Q's energy and effort just takes over the team at 5-foot-10," Devlin said. "We need it. If we don't have it, we are not as good. He's a competitor."

The other mainstay has been Kelvin Bright, HCC's leading scorer. Bright, who was named national player of the week this season, averages 24 points and is the seventh-leading scorer in NJCAA Division I basketball.

The pair needs to answer the bell for HCC, but some other players have to step in if HCC is going to make a run at the title.

"Bright and Matheny have answered it all year and (center) Will Taylor always seems to get his eight points and eight rebounds," Devlin said. "We need (center) John Long to rebound, but Sheridan Price is the guy. If he and Anthony Perez plays for us and they get 10 points each ... We have only lost one game this year when they come to play like that."

HCC (22-7) enters the game after defeating Garrett 81-67 on Feb 6. Looming would be rematches with either Allegany or Chesapeake, who have each been handfuls for the Hawks.

Even with so much on the line, Devlin has employed a relaxed approach to the tournament.

"We have put in all the Xs and Os. Now, it's just the guys," Devlin said. "It will be our 30th game and if they don't know what to do by now ...

"We have 22 wins, so we know how to win. We are all prepped. We are going at it with a boxer's mentality. We are doing a lot of reps and working on our defense, but we haven't been scrimmaging. We don't want anyone to hurt a knee. Once the bell rings, the mindset is to play all together."

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