On a night when Seventh Woods returned to the Hammond lineup, it was Christiaan Jones and Cardinal Newman that stole the spotlight.
The junior poured in 23 points as the Cardinals knocked off the Skyhawks 66-61 Tuesday to pull into a first-place tie in SCISA Region 1-3A.
Hammond, Cardinal Newman and Heathwood Hall all are tied at 5-2 with one game left. Cardinal Newman will play Heathwood on Thursday while Hammond hosts Ben Lippen on Friday.
“This was a big win for us,” Jones said. “We wanted him (Seventh) to play so we could have a lot more competition tonight. And it made it a lot more fun to come out with the win tonight.”
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Woods, the North Carolina signee, scored 15 points after missing the past two weeks with a bone bruise on his knee. He played the game with a small brace on his left knee and played all but one minute in the game.
The Cardinals were able to overcome Woods’ return and a slow start for their first win over Hammond since 2013 SCISA 3A championship game.
Jones was held scoreless in the first quarter as Hammond jumped out to a 15-5 lead. But Cardinal Newman coach Branden Conrad challenged Jones and told him not to settle for easy jumpers but told him to attack the basket.
The 6-foot-3 guard did that and got hot. He had eight points, including a steal and dunk, during the third quarter as Cardinal Newman went on a 14-5 run over the final 5:40 to lead 50-45 after three.
The Cardinals (15-11, 5-2) took advantage of Hammond center Chevez Goodwin being on the bench with foul trouble during that stretch. Goodwin, who had a double-double in the first half, picked up his fourth foul with 5:25 left in third and was on the bench until 6:33 left in the game.
“It gave us a lot of momentum knowing he was on the bench,” said Jones, who also had seven rebounds and four assists. “We could start rebounding a lot more than we did in the first half and use our bigs to get into the paint than score more outside.”
Goodwin returned with Hammond, ranked No. 12 in the latest USA Today Super 25 poll, down 52-47 and made his impact felt. He scored three straight points as the Skyhawks trimmed the lead to 54-52 with 4:38 left.
But Jones answered with 3-pointer on the Cardinals next possession.
Cardinal Newman led 64-58 with less than a minute left before Woods hit a 3-pointer to close the gap to 64-61 with 4.7 seconds left. Freshman Chico Carter sealed the win with a pair of free throws for the Cardinals, who were just 10-for-20 from the free-throw line.
“We got a young team and a win like this gives us confidence,” Conrad said. “You can see if building it in them throughout the game as it got closer to the end. A great win for the school and Cardinal Newman community.”
Daniel Dunlap added 16 for the Cardinals and Wynston Andrews added 12.
Goodwin and Michael Turner each had 17 to lead Hammond (21-2, 5-2). Goodwin also had 17 rebounds for the Skyhawks, who went 11-of-22 from the free-throw line.
“We started out in that first quarter really well,” Hammond coach Mark McClam said. “But I got to give them credit they played really well and we had a tough time guarding them. We just got to improve our defense and stay out of foul trouble. It is like the third or fourth game we continue to get in foul trouble.)
CN: Christiaan Jones 23, Daniel Dunlap 16, Wynston Andrews 12, Carter Jr. 9, Martin 4, Reedy 2. H: Michael Turner 17, Chevez Goodwin 17, Seventh Woods 15, Lucas Prickett 10, Yuchmow 2.
GIRLS Hammond 59, Cardinal Newman 21
Ahlea Myers scored 16 points and Trinity Johnson added 12 as the Skyhawks clinched at least a tie for the region title. The Skyhawks can win the outright title Friday against second-place Ben Lippen.
H: Trinity Johnson 13, Clarke 2, Hain 4, Edmunds 2, Giles 7, Felder 6, Ahlea Myers 16, Turner 2, Walker 7. CN: Coates 1, Dayhuff 4, McGovern 2, Etter 4, Maddock 1, Bacon 5, Meyers 5.