NORTH EAST, Md. — The 2011-12 season was like a magic carpet ride for the Hagerstown Community College women’s basketball team.
But on Sunday, the magic was gone and the Hawks were called on the carpet.
HCC’s offense went flat at the absolute worst time as poor shooting — even from the foul line — put an end to the season and Marlys Palmer’s 33-year coaching stint in a 53-35 loss to Chesapeake in the Region XX championship game at Cecil College.
“It just was not going to happen,” said Palmer. “The heartbreaking thing for this team is that so many times this year, something magical would happen. Somebody would make shot, a steal or made something happen. We expected it. We made every adjustment we could make and it just wasn’t going to happen.”
HCC (26-5) should have been playing in a foundry on Sunday because most everything went up as bricks.
The Hawks shot 24 percent from the floor (12 for 49), 43 percent from the foul line (9 for 21) and just 28 percent from behind the arc (3 of 7) while Chesapeake did just enough to win the game and the berth to play in the NJCAA Division II national tournament in Peoria, Ill.
“We had shots,” said Palmer, who finished her coaching career with a 608-355 record. “Give (Chesapeake) credit, especially with their press. It gave us problems from the beginning of the game.
“Still, we were down 10 at half and were comfortable. We said ‘OK, the shots are going to have to fall. Can’t rally if shots don’t fall.’ We rallied, but the shots didn’t fall.”
The first half was a tight battle until Chesapeake blew out to a 12-point lead. HCC was only able to move within 22-12 at the half.
From there, HCC couldn’t do anything offensively to head off the Skipjacks (25-3). Chesapeake maintained the lead and stretched to the final 18-point margin to claim the title.
Ashleigh Jones led Chesapeake with 18 points while Denver Clyde added 12.
Alessandra Flores was the only Hawk to reach double figures with 10 points. Kishia Jackson added eight while Yolanda Pinkcett had three points and eight rebounds. HCC held a 38-28 rebounding edge in the game.
“This team gave everything,” Palmer said. “Losing a championship game is the hardest game to lose. Then, you have to think about ‘Would you rather be in a championship game and lose or not be there at all?’
“You want to be there, absolutely. It hurts now, but in a couple of days, you can stand back and reflect.”
HCC placed two players on the all-Region XX tournament team as Flores and Jackson earned honors. Flores and Pinkcett were named to the All-Maryland JuCo team. The Hawks won 26 games and was ranked as high as 17th in the nation and rated third in defense.
HCC’s sophomores end their careers with a two-year record of 48-12, which ranks among the best ever at the school.
And it becomes the end of the road for Palmer.
“Out of heartbreak comes joy,” she said. “I’m sad but satisfied. The only way it could have been better is to win and kept going. Almost everyone ends the season with a loss in the end. Only one team wins the championship.
“I have satisfaction in a job well done. What a great way to end. I’ve been blessed.”
Chesapeake 53, HCC 35
HAGERSTOWN COM. COLLEGE (26-5)
Jackson 8, Smothers 5, Osongo 3, Sprecher 2, Reynolds 2, Pinkcett 3, Roberts 2, Flores 10. Totals 12 9-21 35
CHESAPEAKE COLLEGE (26-3)
Oliver 10, Carr 6, Jones 18, Acree 7, Clyde 12 Totals 24 2-4 53.
Halftime — Chesapeake 22, HCC 12. 3-point goals — HCC 2 (Jackson 2), Chesapeake 3 (Clyde 2, Acree).