HAGERSTOWN —The Hagerstown Community College men’s basketball team won a game in color-by-number fashion.
It was 32, 31, 33, 34 along with 24, 10 and 5 to fill in all the green, black and white needed to repeat as champions.
The numbers make up the main characters in a complete team effort to lead the Hawks to a third consecutive Region XX championship with a 94-80 victory over top-seeded Baltimore on Sunday at HCC’s athletic complex.
“I told them before the game that I have never felt as confident about a team going into a game as I did today,” HCC coach Barry Brown said. “They have done all the right things and committed to the success of the team, in capital letters. That is very difficult to do on the junior college level, but these guys were all for team success over individual success.”
Tournament MVP Donte Thomas and a very stingy blast of team defense led the way as HCC (28-4) jumped out to an early 22-10 lead and maintained the bulge for rest of the way to knock off the Maryland JuCo Conference’s regular-season champions while giving Brown his 100th victory at the school.
With the win, HCC advances to host ASA College, of New York City, in the District 3 playoffs Saturday at 7 p.m. at the athletic complex. ASA defeated Monroe 59-57 on Sunday.
Thomas led HCC with 22 points and 12 assists — giving him 27 in two tournament games — while the defense set the stage.
“They didn’t get a lot of open 3s,” Brown said. “They scored a lot of them against us when they beat us here in the regular season. When you hit 3s, it’s a big lift and extra point. We were exchanging baskets until we started to hit 3s.”
HCC’s shifting zone defense stayed in front of ballhandlers at the point of attack and challenged the 3-point line. Baltimore went just 1 for 12 from behind the arc while the Hawks exploded for 10 of 24 from long range.
Then, each of the numbers played a role in keeping the lead.
* No. 32 — Stephen Christy came off the bench and followed shots convert consecutive flying tip-ins to give HCC the 22-10 lead with 12:35 to go in the first half. It was his only four points of the game.
“Christy’s play off the bench in the first half made a statement,” Brown said. “Those tips took the air out of Baltimore.”
* No. 31 — Antwan Pittman followed with all four of his 3s after Christy’s moves to help HCC to a 52-33 halftime lead.
Baltimore shored up its defense and got physical in the second half to start a comeback. The Panthers were within 78-68 with six minutes remaining.
“We got tired, that was my biggest concern with eight minutes remaining,” Brown said. “Getting that good start and big lead early made a huge difference.”
* No. 33 — Kervin Rameau scored six straight points after the six-minute mark — the last two coming on a dunk with 2:47 remaining — to help HCC keep the lead in double digits.
* No 34 — Christian Leach followed with two critical 3s in the next minute, 10 seconds to help the Hawks push back out to a 92-77 lead to offset the scoring flurry by Baltimore’s Akeem Echols, who dominated the inside for 24 points.
The rest of the work was finished with the consistency of the other three numbers.
* No. 10 — Antonio Jenifer, who hit two huge 3s in the first half to establish HCC’s lead and finished it off with gritty rebounding in the second half.