Men's Basketball: Hawks fight off Howard

January 09, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI |
  • Hagerstown's Christian Leach drives past Howard's Jazmon Harris during Wednesday night's Maryland JuCo Conference men's basketball game at the HCC athletic complex.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Antonio Jenifer and Christian Leach were the stars of the game for the Hagerstown Community College men’s basketball team on Wednesday.

But for coach Barry Brown’s money, Stephen Christy and Shannon Cameron shared MVP honors.

Jenifer scored a gritty 32 points and Leach added 21 as the roster-depleted Hawks outlasted Howard 81-76 in a Maryland JuCo Conference game at HCC’s athletic complex. The combined 53 points meant a lot, but two points by Christy — the last two of the game with 9.5 seconds remaining — may have been the most important.

That’s because it’s the first time Christy has seen the floor since Nov. 24, when he went out with a foot injury.

And Cameron’s contribution? She was the trainer who helped make sure Christy was able to take the floor on Wednesday, especially since the Hawks had only seven players after first-semester grades came out.

“Stephen Christy was the difference in the game for us,” Brown said. “The All-American (Jenifer) was great and played the way he should. (Jerel) Carter did a great job running the show and Christian made some great shots, but it was the heart of Christy which was the biggest difference. He probably shouldn’t have even played.”

Christy played in limited spurts but it was needed time as HCC had to rotate players since it only had a two-man bench.

He made his first appearance on the floor by practicing Tuesday. It was the first time he ran without limping and even made a standing dunk.

“Our trainer, Shannon, did a great job to get him back on the floor as soon as she did,” said Brown, who is a physical therapist. “She did a great job taping and padding his foot to take away his limp. She worked her magic.”

With Christy playing in a best supporting player role, Jenifer’s grit and some strong second-half defense by the Hawks allowed HCC (16-2, 7-1) to pull the game out.

The game was tied at 44 at the half after HCC came back from a 32-24 deficit with seven minutes left in the first half. The Hawks mounted a 20-12 run with Jenifer scoring 11 of his 16 first-half points in the run, including a 3-pointer to send the game into intermission in a tie.

“We had to conserve energy and clock management mattered,” Brown said. “Each and every possession was golden. We took the (shot) clock deep in the second half and did a good job possessing the ball.”

HCC’s defense stepped up to take away Howard’s drives to the basket, while the offense worked for good shots — with Jenifer working as a key on both fronts. The Hawks started with an 8-2 run in the first six minutes of the second half. Leach scored off a rebound, Jenifer added his third of four 3s and Carter had a steal and slam to give the Hawks a 53-46 lead.

Howard chipped back behind Brandon Spain and Kayode Ajenifuja and finally tied the game at 73 on a Joshua Johnson layup with 2:31 remaining.

The Dragons took a 76-75 lead on a 3 by Jazmon Harris with 1:51 remaining, but Leach answered with his own trey 13 seconds later to give HCC a lead it didn’t relinquish.

Jenifer hit a foul shot with 46 seconds left before Christy scored his two to ice that game as HCC shut Howard out the rest of the way.

Jean Eddy Clerius finished with 10 for HCC. Ajenifuja and Johnson had 18 each for Howard.

“I’m proud of the guts this team showed,” Brown said. “I’m proud of the way they gutted out and the intelligence they had with the ball. They showed more patience than they have all year.”

Hagerstown  81, Howard 76
Harris 6, Peters 5, Bartnik 2, Kondeh 13, Spain 14, Ajenifuja18, Johnson 18. Totals 31 9-14 76.
Carter 7, Jenifer 32, Thomas 5, lerius 10, Leach 21, Christy 2, Pittman 4. Totals 28 16-23 81.
Halftime — Tied, 44-44. 3-point goals – Howard 5 (Harris 2, Peters 2, Spain), HCC 9 (Jenifer 4, Leach 3, Carter, Clerius). Flagrant foul — Ajenifuja.

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