Hammond ended a 16-year title drought with a 64-49 win against Northwood Academy on Saturday in the SCISA Class 3A basketball state tournament championship game at the Sumter Civic Center.
“It’s hard sometimes when you have all this talent and you are supposed to win,” Hammond coach Mark McClam said.
“I’m just glad for these guys that they pulled it off. This is a resilient team. Every time Northwood made a move, we were able to keep it together. I really think all the games we played against good public school teams helped get us ready for this. ”
The long-awaited championship was especially pleasing for senior Xavier McDaniel, who scored 14 points in his final prep game.
“It’s like a dream come true because it took so long to get,” said the only senior in the Skyhawks’ starting lineup. “We really felt we would have three by this point, but it just didn’t happen. That’s why I’ll remember this moment for the rest of my life.”
The Skyhawks were not sharp offensively in the first half, but got into rhythm when it mattered the most in the fourth quarter.
“We were pretty fired up at the start and just rushed things too much,” McDaniel said. “We got it together in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter.”
The scrappy Chargers were still within hailing distance at 49-44 with 4:26 remaining when the Skyhawks pulled away with an 8-0 run, with Seventh Woods accounting six of the points.
It was yet another balanced offensive performance for Hammond, which finished with a 26-4 record.
Woods emerged as the game scoring leader with 19 points, 17 of which came in the fourth quarter
Chevez Goodwin, the Skyhawks’ 6-foot-9 junior center, had his second double-double in as many nights with 16 points and 11 boards, and McDaniel was the other double-digit man with 14.
Goodwin and McDaniel did the major damage in the first half, which closed with Hammond in possession of a 28-24 lead. Goodwin scored 16, McDaniel 12 in the opening 16 minutes.
It was a team effort in the decisive fourth quarter with seven Skyhawks scoring. Woods accounted for nine and senior forward De’andre Lee-Smith had a big showing off the bench with four points, four rebounds and one steal.