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College Basketball: Hawks fall 1 comeback short

March 18, 2013

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The Hagerstown Community College men’s basketball team experienced the long and the short of championship basketball.

It was a long trip and a short stay for the Hawks.

HCC had a 1,300-mile trip and a quick turnaround on Monday as Lee College (Texas) held off three comeback bids by the Hawks to take a 104-97 victory in the first round of the NJCAA national tournament.

But the real problem for HCC (29-5), the 12th seed in the 24-team single-elimination tournament, was it spent only a short time in the lead and a long time playing catchup.

With the victory, the Rebels advance to face fifth-seeded Vincennes today at 9:30 p.m. in the Sweet 16. For HCC, the journey of the season came to the end with its first trip to the nationals since 1994.

Lee (25-10), the 21st seed and District 14 champions, overcame an early 11-8 HCC lead, taking a 12-11 advantage on a Deng Deng layup with 12:18 to go in the first half. From there, the Rebels ran off an 18-8 run over the next 6:10 for a 30-19 lead at the 7:04 mark.

The Hawks battled to stay in the game after falling behind by as many as 15 points. Antwaun Pittman scored two baskets — including a 3 — to keep HCC within 47-37 at the intermission.

But HCC wasn’t out of it, scoring the first six points of the second half — including four by Antonio Jenifer and a basket by Kervin Rameau — to close within 47-43.

The Hawks made the big move by tying the game at 60-60 with about 12 minutes remaining as Jenifer scored on a follow shot.

The comeback took too much effort and HCC’s gas tank was empty.

Lee countered with a 12-3 run, led by Don Thomas’ five straight points, to re-establish a 72-63 lead. HCC came back again, this time getting back to within 79-74 on a Rameau basket.

The Rebels held a 95-80 lead with 3 1/2 minutes remaining, but HCC fought back again, closing to 97-92 with 1:07 remaining after Stephen Christy’s 3-pointer.

After a timeout, Lee turned the ball over with 1:04 remaining, giving HCC the chance to make it a one-possession game. The Hawks failed to score and allowed Lee’s Jamal Jones to drive the length of the floor for a layup to all but put the game out of reach with 35 seconds remaining.

HCC got as close as 102-97 with 16 seconds remaining before Jones hit a pair of free throws to ice the game.

Jones led Lee with 25 points, while Deng controlled the inside with 20 points and 12 rebounds. The Rebels had a 53-42 rebounding edge.

Jenifer topped HCC with 25 points and 14 rebounds, while Rameau added 24 points and nine rebounds. HCC connected on just eight of 28 3-point attempts and missed many easy shots late in the game.

Lee (Texas) 104, HCC 97
LEE COLLEGE (25-10)
Jones 7-16 9-9 25, Ward 1-1 0-0 2, Wilson 3-9 0-0 7, Smith 2-6 1-1 5, Knowles 0-3 0-0 0, Burrell 6-10 2-4 16, Thomas 6-10 0-0 16, Blake 6-7 1-2 13, Deng 8-11 2-4 20. Totals 39-73 15-20 104.
HAGERSTOWN (29-5)
Carter 3-4 0-0 6, Jenifer 10-22 2-3 25, Mann 0-1 0-0 0, Leach 5-13 1-1 13, Christy 1-3 0-0 3, Thomas 4-16 8-14 17, Pittman 4-8 0-0 9, Rameau 10-18 4-5 24. Totals 37-85 15-23 97.
Halftime — Lee, 47-37. 3-point goals — Lee 11-27 (Jones 2-6, Wilson 1-6, Smith 0-1, Knowles 0-2, Burrell 2-3, Thomas 4-7, Deng 2-2), HCC 8-28 (Carter 0-1, Jenifer 3-6, Leach 2-6, Christy 1-3, Thomas 1-6, Pittman 1-5, Rameau 0-1). Rebounds — Lee 53 (Deng 12), HCC 42 (Jenifer 14). Assists — Lee 23 (Deng 6), HCC 19 (Thomas 11). Turnovers — Lee 24, HCC 13. Total fouls — Lee 18, HCC 17. Fouled out — Knowles, Jenifer.

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