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HCC only a win away from national tourney

March 03, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

Dameatric Scott and Alister Chisholm have been true to their word.

The rest of the Hagerstown Community College men’s basketball team has been true to the cause.

And now, the Hawks have a true shot at advancing to the NJCAA national tournament.

The Hawks continue on the waning stages of a truly remarkable season when they travel to Allegany College to face Monroe (Bronx, N.Y.) College on Saturday at 1 p.m. for the District 3 championship and their first trip to the nationals in 16 years.

It has been a season in which the Hawks have banned together with one goal under second-year coach Barry Brown. But it started with promises by two of HCC’s recruits — Scott and Chisholm.

“Scott, our local product, came here and said he was going to do everything in his power to take Hagerstown to a level it has never been before,” Brown said. “And Alister came down from Canada to see us lose at Allegany. He told me that wasn’t going to happen again if he comes here.

“One of the big differences between this year and last year is that we brought in recruits who bought into our philosophy. They brought themselves in to achieve under a team concept.”

It’s so far, so good for HCC (26-4). The Hawks have been one of the most versatile teams to wear the HCC uniform for some time. They have been able to show the trademark flash that the program was built on when Brown’s father, Jim Brown, coached at the school. But this HCC team has shown a tougher edge to play the halfcourt game with a strong inside presence to be effective.

The success, according to Brown, comes from a cast of thousands:

Najee White, D’Quan Lynch and Arthur Hairston, HCC’s three returning sophomores, who provided some of the foundation for the team.

“Najee is one of the most improved players we have had in the two years he’s been here,” Brown said. “Lynch has had to learn to play the point guard position. He was a 5-foot-10 inside player in high school. Now he nears triple-doubles for us every night and is our leading rebounder.”

Lauren Coates, who became the starting point guard at the end of the season.

“Coates brings us that D.C. mentality of toughness,” Brown said. “It would be hard to think we would be where we are now without him.”

And Devin Miller, a sharpshooting small forward, who leads HCC in scoring as a freshman and was the MVP of the Region XX tournament.

“He was just an incredible performer last weekend,” Brown said. “He came to us late, but we told him he was the final piece that we needed to make this work.”

HCC found its stride and has played some of its best basketball, starting in its last 10 regular-season games, despite a couple of losses.

In Monroe, the Hawks will face a team equally as tested. The Mustangs (30-4) have won 18 straight games since losing to Frederick on Dec. 12, 2010. They have won 23 of 24 games since a 109-101 double-overtime loss to HCC in the Hagerstown Invitational on Nov. 28.

“They are one of the hottest teams in the East and are probably the hottest team of the last 24 Division I teams still playing,” Brown said. “They are a big, powerful team with tough guards.”

Monroe’s scoring is spread evenly across the roster — just like HCC’s — and is led by 6-3 guard Jeff Early with 15.5 points per game. Orlando Sanchez, a 6-9 center from the Dominican Republic, is the top rebounder with 12.0 per game. The Mustangs allow 66 points per game.

“Their players are about the same as when we played them, but we’re a different team,” Brown said.

Brown says he’s counting on that difference and the enduring word of the Hawks to pull this one out for a chance to advance to the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., later this month.

“I look for us to bring it and to play our game,” Brown said. “It will be a blue-collar effort. If we win, it’s great. I want to see how high we can raise the bar. We want to lay it on the line for 40 minutes so we can look at each other in the end and be satisfied in what we have accomplished.”

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