The Hagerstown Community College men’s basketball program is about to go into orbit.
The Hawks are like the astronauts who used to routinely take trips on the space shuttle. They are about to explore a new frontier that only a few have experienced before them.
OK, it may not be the quiet and awe-inspiring vastness of outer space, but it’s a galaxy with its own stars.
It’s the NJCAA Division I national tournament. It happens yearly, but for teams like HCC, most see it about as often as Halley’s Comet.
And for those involved, it might be almost as memorable.
When HCC takes the floor Monday against Lee College, it will be something this group has never experienced and may never experience again.
The Hawks are about to play for a national championship. No matter how long the odds, they are one of very few teams — 24, to be exact — to be afforded this opportunity. It’s an opportunity every team thought about in the offseason, targeted in the preseason and aimed for during the season.
But like cream, the smallest of portions rise to the top.
The national tournament has been the major symphony being played as background music for HCC.
Everything done during the season was performed for the purpose of this moment.
And everything that is about to happen was symbolized on a table that has been sitting next to the main court in the HCC athletic facility for practices. It became a major sign for the last month.
There is a white sheet of paper taped to the makeshift scorer’s table.
On the top half is a tournament bracket, showing the steps needed to win a title.
Below, the words “The Journey” were written and underlined.
And at the bottom were the numbers 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, which all have slashes through them. Then, instead of 0 or Blast Off or even Happy New Year, they are followed by one word — actually an abbreviation.
The countdown has been completed and the ball — in this case, a basketball — is about to drop. It’s time for HCC to takeoff and start anew — at the NJCAA tournament in HUTCHinson, Kan., for the first time since 1994.
The countdown was the previous seven games — which constituted winning the Maryland JuCo, Region XX and District 3 tournament titles. They all came after the Hawks reached their absolute lowpoint, losing the last two games of the regular season after winning 22 of the first 24.
The Hawks were able to get through all adversity and come together as a team at the right time of the season to make a run at a championship. Does that work? Ask the 2011 New York Giants and the 2012 Baltimore Ravens.
Parasiliti: HCC basketball enters national orbit
Bob Parasiliti (Joe Crocetta / April 15, 2012)