Chisholm's heart pumps life into Hawks

March 05, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI |

HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown Community College’s basketball community was concerned about Alister Chisholm’s knee during last weekend’s Region XX Tournament.

In the process, everyone forgot about his heart.

Chisholm erased every image of what could have been a season-ending knee injury on Sunday when he gave a vintage performance as the Hawks’ sparkplug by scoring 19 points and igniting HCC’s offense in a 79-74 victory over Allegany to win a second straight region championship.

Chisholm had every reason possible to protect his left knee from further injury. He found more heartfelt reasons to play.

“My team uplifted me,” said Chisholm, who played effectively just 16 days after crumbling to the floor after a misstep hyperextended his knee during the Maryland JuCo Conference quarterfinals. “I came out and got more prepared for this game. I had a lot of motivation.

“We have suffered a lot of family losses on this team. Jerel Carter lost his grandmother. (Assistant coach Curtis Graff) showed up for us during the season when he was sick and should have been in bed. I had every reason to be out there. If they could be there, so could I.”

Chisholm had been christened as HCC’s closer for his knack of finding ways to finish off wins. After a subpar game against Vincennes (Ind.) University in Saturday’s region opener, Chisholm played 23 quality minutes, including two critical stretches in a 9 1/2-minute span midway through the second half, which got HCC back into the game.

“I can’t say enough about Alister,” coach Barry Brown said. “He came back from a knee injury and had just one good practice before going out to play. There was no way he wasn’t going to be on the court for us today, no matter if we won or lost.

“He rose to the occasion. His emotions were infectious. He’s the heart of the program and came out with only one leg and showed so much.”

Chisholm put extra effort into his pregame warm-ups — breaking a huge sweat — to make sure he was ready to play on Sunday after the disappointing Saturday. His eyes were focused in tunnel-vision mode.

HCC teammate Josh Boyd grabbed Chisholm as he started toward the floor for the opening tip and delivered some added encouragement.

“He told me to make my presence felt right from the beginning of the game,” Chisholm said.

Chisholm got out of the gate quickly, hitting a pair of 3s in the first three minutes to get the Hawks started.

But the Hawks hit a lull late in the first half as Allegany roared back from 11 down to get within 39-38 at the half. At that point, the Trojans were in the midst of an 18-0 run to establish a 49-39 lead as HCC’s offense became passive.

“The adrenaline from (Saturday’s) win carried us early in the game,” Brown said. “Then we came down and had to find something else to get us going. That was a combination of our bench and our defense. We also got Alister in there because I know he is always going to be attacking the basket.”

Chisholm’s floor game made an immediate impact after Brown called a timeout when the Hawks fell 10 back with 16:33 to play. Every time he touched the ball in a five-minute stint was a productive touch, whether it was a steal, an assisting pass or just plain taking it on his own.

He sat down with 11:30 left and HCC was back within 51-47.

After a quick breather, Chisholm came back for another two-minute stint, scoring on a drive before dishing a pass for a Carter layup as HCC got within 56-53 by the time he left at the 9:48 mark.

HCC battled through five ties and five lead changes after that, getting to a 72-72 tie with 1:21 remaining. Chisholm was part of the final defensive group that closed the game with a 7-2 run — hitting two of the seven final free throws that iced the game.

 “I kept going to the basket because I knew we needed me to step it up,” Chisholm said. “Things weren’t going to play but I knew if I stepped it up, someone would join me. Basketball is a game of runs. Allegany hit us with a big punch early. We just got ours in the end when we needed it.”

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