Heathwood Hall closed out the regular season with a sweep of Cardinal Newman on Thursday. Both Highlander teams are off until the start of the SCISA state playoffs next weekend (Feb. 18-19).
In the opener the already crown champion Highlanders girls (20-5) closed the Region 1-3A campaign with an 8-0 record. Heathwood also finished the regular season riding a seven-game winning streak since losing to powerhouse Hilton Head Prep.
A’ja Wilson scored 21 points in the Highlanders’ 55-41 conquest of Cardinal Newman (13-11, 3-5). Sarah Scott provided Wilson with double-digit support with 11 points. Molly Rainwater and Alex August led the Cardinals with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Hammond has already finished region and regular season play. Ben Lippen hosts Augusta Christian in the region finale for both schools.
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Cardinal Newman and Ben Lippen have regular season outings against independent Providence Home School (PAC) next week prior to the start of the state playoffs.
As usual, first-round sites next weekend will be at various sites around the state, including Heathwood Hall, before the action shifts to the Sumter Exhibition Center.
The Heathwood Hall upset of No. 1 Cardinal Newman turned into a strange affair down the stretch.
The Highlanders (20-6, 7-1) fell into a 10-0 hole before they even managed to get off its first shot of the game. But with Corey Littlejohn taking command, Heathwood Hall went on a 63-40 run that staked them to as commanding lead with four minutes to go in the game.
The Cardinals, who did not play well at either end of the floor, got it together enough to close the gap to 67-63 with 54 seconds to go and got the ball back on a Highlanders turnover 12 seconds later. CN’s Colburn Gatling seemingly pulled his team within one points with 35 seconds left when he nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing. The score was negated by a traveling call.
Forced to foul, the Cardinals (24-3, 7-1) then saw things fall completely apart. Heathwood’s Thomas Burg the front end of a bonus chance with 34 seconds to go, but teammate Alex Bueno got the rebound, was fouled and went to line. Bueno also missed the first attempt, but teammate Shelton Whittaker got the rebound, was fouled and he made two free throws to up lead to 69-63 with 27 seconds to go.
The flustered Cardinals threw the ball (and the game) away on the ensuing inbounds pass.
Littlejohn finished with 32 points, seven rebounds five assists and two steals. He had 14 of Heathwood’s 18 points in the first quarter, 21 by halftime. In the second half, the senior star blended into a smooth offensive flow with his teammates that the CN defense could not counter.
Bueno finished with 16 points and eigh boards, while Whittaker had 13 points and six rebounds. Bueno scored 10 points in the second half, Whittaker nine. Sophomore center Chase Ryan was also solid for the Highlanders with eight points and seven rebounds.
Austin Ajukwa led CN with 25 points, including a 15-for-16 showing at the line. Matt Erdman helped keep the Cardinals hopes going by seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.
SCISA Region 1-3A boys standings
Cardinal Newman 7-0, Heathwood Hall 6-1, Ben Lippen 2-5, Hammond 3-5, Augusta Christian 0-7.
SCISA Region 1-3A girls standings
Heathwood Hall 7-0, Augusta Christian 5-2, Cardinal Newman 3-4, Hammond 3-5, Ben Lippen 0-7.