Cardinal Newman, fresh from a disappointing, injury-marred campaign in 2009-10, has bolted out of the starting gate with a 5-1 record with a new-look team.
The Cardinals, with just two returning starters in tow, is 3-0 in regular season outings, and went 2-1 at a preseason tournament hosted by Military Magnet in the Lowcountry during Thanksgiving week.
“I’m very excited about this season,” said fifth-year CN coach Kevin Rose. “This is the most athletic team we’vs had since I’ve been the head coach here. We have a tough schedule in the early months, but I’m hoping it can give us some quality games before the start of the region season.”
The Cards lone loss was to Class 4A Wando in the first round of the tournament last week. CN closed the three-game event with a win over 4A Beaufort, 77-63.
Newcomer Austin Ajukwa, a 6-5 sophomore guard, has emerged as the early scoring leader. Ajukwa is averaging 23.4 points and 4.8 rebounds a game. He canned a season high 27 points in the loss to Wando and his low game was 19 points in the season opener vs. Charleston Collegiate on Nov. 20.
Colbern Gatling (10.8 ppg6.0 rpg), Rico Martinez (7.0 ppg), Timmy Cunningham (6.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Matt Erdman (5.2 ppg) have also played well.
Gatling and Cunningham, who are botrh 6-4 seniors, are the two returning starters.
Michael Collins, a 6-0 sophomore point guard and Joe Armstrong, a 6-5 freshman center, are two youngsters to watch.
“Heathwood is the front runner this season, but we might be able to complete for the region title,” said Rose, who is 73-50 in four plus seasons in command.