One of the things Hammond boys coach Mark McClam likes most about his team is its mental toughness and resilency.
The Skyhawks showed those characteristics in the second half to break open a close game and defeat Cardinal Newman 80-59 on Friday. With the victory, Hammond extended its winning streak to 36 games.
“We are a tough team,” Hammond center Chevez Goodwin said. “We have been there before. Me and Seventh Woods have been playing together for three years, and most of this guys on the team have been playing together for more than two years, so we are used to close and tough games.
“We are tough, mentally tough and prepared, thanks to our coaches. Our coaches prepare us for every game, so when teams go on spurts, we got to do what we do best and get the win.”
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And what Hammond does best is get the ball to Goodwin and Woods, the Skyhawks’ Division I signees. The two players shined in the second half and gave Hammond the 1-2 punch they needed.
Woods, who is headed to North Carolina, was close to a triple-double with 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. He was 4-of-6 from 3-point range, and threw down a pair of big tomahawk dunks to excite the Skyahwk crowd in the second half.
Goodwin, the College of Charleston the signee, finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
“Me and Seventh are blessed with God-given abilities, and we use them to the best of our ability,” Goodwin said. “I enjoy playing with him and he enjoys playing with me. It is going to be hard when we go off to college to play on different teams because we are so used to each other.”
Woods and Goodwin combined for 26 of Hammond’s 40 points in the second half as the Cardinals made a big push in front of a raucous crowd at the second game in their new gymnasium.
Trailing 53-45 in the third quarter, the Cardinals (11-10, 2-1) got back in it as Christiaan Jones and Parker Gatling hit a pair of 3-pointers to cut the lead to 53-51 with 2:01 left. But Hammond responded with a 10-0 run to take control of the game and lead 63-51 with 5:26 left.
“It was their new gym and everyone was hyped up, so to come in here and get a win is pretty big,” Woods said. “We have been on big stages for the past three years and we know basketball is a game of runs. So when they went on their run, we just know we got to stay compose and stick to the plan.”
McClam praised his team’s defense over the final quarter and a half. Hammond (19-0, 3-0) slowed down Jones, who finished with 22 points, during that stretch. Cardinal Newman scored just eight points over the final 10:01 of the game.
“I thought our defense from the middle of the third quarter to the middle of the fourth quarter was flat out spectacular. I thought it is what won it for us at the end,” McClam said. “We are pretty resilent. We wear teams out in the end and we got pieces, outside shooting, ball handling and can pound it inside some.”
H: Seventh Woods 27, Chevez Goodwin 23, Turner 8, Theodore 7, Yuchmow 5, Felder 3, Prickett 3, Brown 2, Lewis 2. CN: Christiaan Jones 22, Carter, Jr. 9, Martin 8, Dunlap 6, Gatling 6, R. Williams 4, Reedy 2, S. Williams 2.
Girls Hammond 57, Cardinal Newman 23
Ahlea Myers scored a game-high 26 points and the Skyhawks used a big second quarter to defeat the Cardinals.
Hammond outscored Cardinal Newman 22-7 in the second quarter, including a 15-1 run to begin the quarter.
H: Johnson 6, Clarke 3, Tompkins 2, Giles 2, A. Felder 12, Ahlea Myers 26, Turner 2, Walker 4. CN: Coates 2, Daghuff 9, Maddock 3, Augulish 4, Bacon 5.