Ben Lippen arrived at Hammond on Friday with a 14-0 record at its back. But the Falcons never held the upper hand against the host Skyhawks as Hammond dealt the Falcons their first loss, 69-55.
Hammond overcame Ben Lippen — and its 11 3-pointers — with 22 points from Seventh Woods, and 13 points apiece from Xavier McDaniel and Chevez Goodwin.
“We had to come out stronger on defense to break their 14-0 record,” Woods said. “It was big for us because we didn’t want to go outside. But they started hitting 3s, so we kind of had to push them up a little bit.”
Ben Lippen had been within one point late in the first half, but in the second, despite efficient scoring, Hammond ratcheted its lead up to 15 points.
The Skyhawks cut off the lane from the start, isolating the Falcons at the perimeter. Ben Lippen, a strong outside-shooting squad went in over their heads, with Braden Cox hitting the first of his four 3’s in the opening minute. It was the start of a very small — and short-lived — Ben Lippen advantage.
Hammond started scoring three minutes in, feeding the ball to Davis King inside. When Cox hit a second 3, the Skyhawks again went to King. Then Woods stripped the Falcons’ guard at midcourt.
The ensuing dunk knotted the score.
Woods followed with a clean 3-pointer that put the Skyhawks in control.
But Hammond’s lead was 14-12 after one period, and the Skyhawks were not dominating.
Ben Lippen coach Ryan Molony knew his team would hold up against the pressure.
“We knew we were going to have to make some outside shots to win, and we did that early on,” Molony said.
But their halfcourt defense could not stop Woods or Hammond’s offensive rebounding, and their small disadvantage snowballed as the game went on.
When Woods opened the second quarter with another 3, and McDaniel notched back-to-back buckets that inched the Hammond lead up to 23-14.
With four trips to the free throw line, and 5-of-8 shooting there, Ben Lippen beat back that deficit. Then Mark Shoemaker hit a 3-pointer and it was one-point game with two minutes to go in the first half.
With a putback from Goodwin and two buckets from McDaniel, Hammond regained its advantage.
The Skyhawks led 29-22 at the half, and their lead was nine going into the final period.
“I’m proud of my guys’ effort. We came on the road, No. 1 team in the state, and gave them a pretty good battle, so we’re going to take a lot of confidence out of here moving forward,” Molony said.
B: Mark Shoemaker 17, Barrow 4, Barrett 3, Bynum 10, Burnett 1, Braden Cox 14, McGuire 6. H: Chevez Goodwin 13, Lee-Smith 2, Obicha 2, King 6, Turner 4, Carlson 7, Seventh Woods 22, Xavier McDaniel 13.