HAGERSTOWN — Allegany College of Maryland became the latest casualty of Hagerstown Community College’s personal war.
“We have had some adversity,” HCC coach Barry Brown said. “We have been trying to play against ourselves and against the game of basketball. We are trying to learn to play more consistently against every opponent. Tonight, the opponent just happened to be Allegany.”
The Hawks took no prisoners on Saturday. HCC controlled the paint and the backboards to choke off the Trojans’ offense and score a convincing 81-64 Maryland JuCo Conference victory at the HCC athletic complex.
The Hawks (16-3, 9-1) took control from the middle out behind the 17-point, 10-rebound performance by sophomore postman Najee White to take the Trojans out of their flow.
“We were going over this in practice all week,” said White. “Coach kept telling me they had a big man and I had to front him and work hard on defense. We worked hard to play the game at our level.”
On Saturday, that level was one of control. HCC has historically been known for its run-and-gun style, but this time, a halfcourt game was more in fashion.
HCC trailed 28-22 with 5:44 remaining in the first half before ripping off a 25-2 run that bridged over into the second half to take a 47-30 lead. White led the way with 10 points. Dameatric Scott added six in the flurry that took HCC to a 39-30 halftime lead before it was extended to a 47-30 advantage with 17:04 remaining in the game.
The Hawks held Allegany without a point for 5:08 and without a basket for 8:16 in the span.
“I’m surprised,” White said. “I didn’t realize that. We pretty much picked up the ‘D’ and worked hard.”
Part of HCC’s success was a switch in defenses which allowed the switch in fortunes.
“We switched from a man to and active zone,” Brown said “We were able to rebound and hold them to one shot. That allowed us to get the momentum and make a run right at a very important time right at the end of the first half.
“I’m really proud of the way Najee played today. He has matured so much over his two years here and has been a major help as one of the three guys who stayed on with this year’s team. He played his best game tonight.”
Allegany tried to make surges to get back into the game behind the drives of Derrell Armstrong, who finished with 23 points. White and HCC’s defense effectively eliminated Allegany’s big man Darnell Turner, holding him to just five points.
HCC led by as much as 23 points, 79-56, with 3:04 remaining when Jasmin Handanovic hit the last of his four second-half 3-pointers.
“We have been going through a tough stretch for the last 10 days because of the loss of Tione Womack (to eligibility), “ Brown said. “We have move Lauren Coates into the point and D’Quan Lynch has been a big help. We have started to adjust and move on.”
Devin Miller led HCC with 18 points and Alister Chisholm had 14, including three 3s by each. Scott added nine rebounds and six assists.
“We beat a very good team today,” Brown said. “They have been winning a lot of games lately and we may end up playing them three more times.”