The key to team success is having a next-man-up mentality, or being anything but "one dimensional" as Hagerstown Community College women's basketball coach Bernie Semler calls it.
On Wednesday night, with Cover back in the lineup, Meiklejohn continued to lead the Hawks as she posted a team-high 20 points in a 74-60 Maryland JUCO victory over Howard Community College on sophomore night.
"I looked at it the other day, and Sarah is averaging 17 or 18 points a game since the first of January," Semler said. "She really stepped it up big time and that's what we needed. ... Sarah's kind of like 'Hey, I'm a shooter' and now she believes it."
In the absence of Cover, Meiklejohn posted team highs in five of nine games.
"It's really sad that I'm a sophomore and everything has to come to and end but I'm glad we could all go out with a bang," Meiklejohn said. "I knew that when Chelsea went down, I would have to step up and be a team leader. I'm glad she's back now and we share the ball better and more now as a team than we did before."
HCC (12-9, 6-6) rode back-to-back 20-point periods in the second half to put away the Dragons. Half of the points the Hawks posted in the third were courtesy of Meiklejohn, who opened the period by draining consecutive corner 3s.
Following a three-point play by Cover (13 points), Meiklejohn finished a feed from Brittanie Wray (nine points), pushing the lead to 54-42.
Meanwhile, the Dragons (6-15, 2-9) kept the game close thanks to an explosive third period by Sabreen Muslim (31 points). In the period, Muslim made five baskets to match Meiklejohn.
"I tend to get down on myself," Meiklejohn said. "In the first half I wasn't shooting as well. It was mostly all just layups and stuff but I just cleared my head and had a short memory and when I'm hot, I'm hot."
In the fourth, the Hawks limited Muslim to two baskets while working to close it out.
A pair of Janae Holman baskets were sandwiched around a Howard 3-pointer by Ashlyn McInerney (13 points). A Cover 3, a putback by Morgan Henderson (11 points) and field goals from Wray and Tori Fowlkes put the game out of reach at 72-58.
It was a close game until midway through the second quarter. After Semler called a 30-second timeout, the Hawks got hot. HCC pulled down rebounds and forced turnovers, converting them into buckets. A steal from Wray became a basket for Meiklejohn. Moments later, a Fowlkes rebound on a missed shot became a 3-pointer for Henderson for a 25-22 lead.
The Hawks closed out the opening half with a pair of baskets from Cover, one following the win of a loose ball, and a 3-pointer from Wratchford (nine points) at the buzzer to send HCC into the half up 34-28.
With the 46th and final installment of the Maryland JUCO conference tournament scheduled to take place at HCC's ARCC arena from Feb. 14 through Feb. 17, the Hawks look forward to home court advantage.
"We're seventh out of eight teams right now so we'll probably play the second seeded team," Meiklejohn said. "We can defiantly beat any team if we play together. It's going to be tough but if we play together we can go far."
Official seeding for the tournament will be announced Friday.
"We're going to approach the tournament like we do every game and defense is going to be the number one thing for us," Semler said. "We'll play either Baltimore or Chesapeake in the first round and they've got bigs on the inside so our defensive pressure trying to create turnovers and score off of steals is something we have to do."