Behind a 30-point effort by freshman Seventh Woods, Hammond assumed command of the SCISA Region 1-3A race with a 64-48 win Friday before an overflow crowd at Cardinal Newman.
The youthful Skyhawks (14-3, 3-0) jumped all over the Cardinals in the first quarter, taking a 6-0 lead before the hosts got off a shot. Hammond forced seven turnovers and had a 23-6 lead by the time the smoke cleared at the end of the opening eight minutes.
The stunned Cardinals (10-9, 2-1) never cut the deficit below nine points the rest of the way.
“Our plan was to come out very aggressive, to play an up-tempo game as much as possible, trap them where we could, change up defenses and take care of the ball in our end,” Hammond coach Mark McClam said.
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“For the most part, we carried it out. We have a lot of respect for Cardinal Newman, so to come into this place against a veteran team and get a big win like this one is something to be proud of.”
Woods out-dueled Cardinal Newman senior Austin Ajukwa, who finished with a team-high 19 points. The emerging star rang up 10 points in the first-quarter run and helped keep the Cardinals at bay in the fourth with 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting.
“Cardinal Newman was really hitting the offensive boards in the second half, but when they got tired in the fourth it opened up the floor for us and Seventh took advantage,” McClam said. “He’s a special talent and he’s only going to get better as he matures, but we had a lot of good performances tonight.”
Sophomore Xavier McDaniel had 11 points and six rebounds, while Sam Ulmer and Spencer Carlson contributed nine and eight points, respectively.
Cardinal Newman’s nightmare first quarter also included the ejection of coach David Ross, who was whistled for two technical fouls at the 1:00 mark. Woods made it sting even more by converting all four of the bonus free throw attempts.
“All we can do is try to learn from this and get ready for Ben Lippen on Tuesday,” said assistant coach Branden Conrad, who guided the Cardinals the rest of the way.
“Hammond had way too many easy baskets in the paint, especially in the first half, but I felt we got some good shots and just didn’t knock them down. Maybe that was because we lost a little confidence when he got behind so early.”
Ajukwa’s only reliable scoring support came from senior post Joe Armstrong, who tallied 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
H: Ulmer 9, Smith 4, Seventh Woods 30, Xavier McDaniel 11, Carlson 8, Krupa 2. CN: August 7, Austin Ajukwa 19, Halfacre 4, Joe Armstrong 18.