The area’s SCISA basketball teams engaged in final tune-ups before the start of region play next week, and the outcomes were not altogether pleasing for fans of the local teams.
That was especially the case with the Cardinal Newman and Heathwood Hall boys teams, which occupy the top two spots in the Class 3A poll. The No. 1 Cardinals fell 53-51 at Pinewood Prep, while the No. 2 Highlanders suffered a 54-36 whipping at the hands of Wilson Hall at home with leading scorer Corey Littlejohn out of the lineup.
Austin Ajukwa scored 17 points and Michael Collins and Colburn Gatling scored 12 points apiece, but it was not enough against the rebuilding but still reigning SCISA champion Panthers. The loss marked the end of the Cards’ 13-game winning streak. CN stands at 13-2.
Joseph James scored 15 points for Heathwood Hall (11-4) but the Highlanders could not make up for the loss to Littlejohn’s 24.2 scoring average.
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Ben Lippen’s recent revival continued with a 58-54 win at home against Laurence Manning Academy. The Falcons raced to a 20-10 lead by the end of the first half, but the Swampcats rallied to even the score entering the fourth quarter.
Drew Fraley led the way with a double-double – scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Chad Burnett (7 points, 8 assists), Derek Snelgrove (11 points, 5 rebounds) and Luke Burnett (10 points) all had significant contributions. Ben Lippen’s 17-for-21 performance at the free-throw line was also key to victory. The Falcons (4-10) are 4-3 since getting off to a 0-7 start.
Hammond (4-10) took a positive step in a 58-41 win at Orangeburg Prep. The Skyhawks entered the game with 10 losses in 11 games after getting off to a 2-0 start this season.
The lone success in girls play on Friday was Heathwood Hall’s 46-45 win over Wilson Hall. The undisputed star was 6-2 Highlanders freshman A’ja Wilson, who tallied 31 points. Heathwood Hall stands at 10-4.
Tuesday’s region slate features Heathwood Hall at Ben Lippen and Hammond at Augusta Christian. Cardinal Newman begins region play on Jan. 14.