HAGERSTOWN — Looking back on Frederick Community College’s loss to Baltimore City Community College in Sunday’s state JuCo men’s basketball championship game, Cougars’ coach Emonte Hill couldn’t find much wrong with how his team played.

FCC played well against a much taller Panthers’ team. There were eight lead changes and five ties throughout the contest. It all came down to one thing.

“They just made a few more plays than we did,” Hill said of the Cougars’ 77-74 loss at Hagerstown Community College. “We battled the whole game. They battled. We came back, they came back.”

What FCC did take away from Sunday’s game was a message that the Cougars could play with any team on their schedule, regardless of any advantage their opponents had. It also signaled FCC was getting ready for what might well be a dress rehearsal of sorts for the upcoming NJCAA Division II Region XX Tournament at Cecil College in March.

The Cougars will close out their regular-season schedule on Monday, Feb. 25, hosting top-ranked Potomac State. The Catamounts will most likely be the No. 1 seed at the March Division II regionals.

“We’ll face them in our last game, and we will probably face them again at regionals,” Hill said. “We’ll be ready.”

FCC assistant coach Jeff Chambers noted the week layoff ahead of the Feb. 25 date will give the Cougars a chance to rest up from what was a hard-fought game on Sunday, as well as allow for any nagging injuries to heal.

Sunday’s contest with the Panthers was set to go high speed from the get-go.

In order to counter BCCC’s major height advantage, FCC used both speed and a lot of patience.

“We worked to open up their spacings on the floor, try and keep them away from the basket,” Hill said. “We wanted to limit their opportunities.”

Both teams held large leads. FCC had an eight-point lead on BCCC, 58-50, with 10 minutes, 24 seconds to go in the game. The Panthers led by as many as 13, 33-20, with 7:11 left in the first half.

The Cougars had their chances to pull away from BCCC down the stretch, getting plenty of good looks at the basket, but key shots were not falling. Meanwhile, the Panthers kept up the pressure at both ends of the floor.

With 1:15 left on the clock and trailing 71-70, BCCC took the lead for good. Ndongo Ndaw hit a jump shot, and BCCC went on to lead by as many as six the rest of the way.

FCC got no closer than two down the stretch. The Cougars did have one last shot as time expired but missed.

“This team plays with a lot of heart,” Hill said. “You have to tip your hat to Baltimore, they did a good job.”

David Garey (all-tournament team) led FCC with a game-high 26 points, which included a 10-of-10 performance from the foul line. He also had three assists.

Juwan Burnett came off the bench to score 14 points with three steals for FCC. Dwayne Garner (all-tournament team) had 11 points with five rebounds. Ben Meredith had seven rebounds.

Adeyo had 16 points. Ndaw had 13 points with five rebounds and three blocks. Randy Rickards had two blocks for BCCC.

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