Northwood Academy withstood a furious second-half rally by Hammond to grab the gold ring in SCISA Class 3A girls basketball on Saturday at the Sumter Civic Center, defeating the Skyhawks 61-58 in the state tournament championship game.
The Chargers from North Charleston went 0-4 in title bouts (2010-14) with scoring machine Amber Campbell in the lineup but found the winning formula with a more balanced mix.
“With Amber, we had a kid who could score 40 points a game, but we have five kids who can all score in double digits and that’s been a tremendous advantage for us because everybody is involved,” Northwood coach Presley Singleton said.
Jailah Melvin led the way with 16 points, backed by Erika Melvin (14 points), Dee Heath (11), Katelyn Powell (10) and 6-foot-5 eighth-grader Angel Middleton (9).
“I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to lose the way we did last year when A’ja Wilson hit that 3-pointer at the buzzer to send it into overtime,” Singleton said. “This is a much better feeling.”
Hammond was unable to overcome a poor shooting performance in the first half. The youthful Skyhawks were 6-for-30 from the field in the opening 16 minutes and faced a 32-17 halftime deficit.
Northwood had a 42-26 lead midway though the third quarter before Amelia Green got hot. The junior sharpshooter gave the Skyhawks new life by hitting three 3-pointers in a 77-second span.
“We never stopped battling, and Amelia finally gave us a lift offensively,” Hammond coach Roshan Myers said. “That’s when we started playing with a lot more confidence.”
Morgan Walker’s eight fourth quarter points and seven by Ahlea Myers kept the rally going down the stretch. But the Skyhawks never got the lead below three points the rest of the way.
“I think we came into the game with the idea of playing Northwood instead of playing our game,” Myers said. “This was a learning experience for a young team. Hopefully, it just the first step in getting Hammond girls basketball back to where it was consistently challenging for championships.”
Freshman Myers and Green combined for 35 points. Myers took game-scoring honors with 18 points while Green tallied 17 points including five 3-pointers. Walker scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half.