Dec 26, 2013
Entering the highly-anticipated HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational match-up, the Columbia, S.C. Hammond Skyhawks had the spotlight with high-flying sophomore guard Seventh Woods, but the Fayetteville Trinity Crusaders had what it took to win.
Trinity pulled ahead early in the game and survived a late comeback attempt, led by Woods' seven fourth-quarter three-pointers, to secure a 79-65 win in the first round of the Summit Hospitality bracket.
"We just wanted to come out here and play our style of basketball," said Trinity head coach Heath Vandevender. "I thought we did that for the most part tonight."
Trailing 56-31 at the end of the third quarter, Woods took control of the game in the final period by making four consecutive three-pointers. He then scored on a breakaway dunk that brought the crowd to its feet before netting three more shots from deep. Despite the performance, the Skyhawks were unable to make the game close at the end thanks to balanced scoring from Trinity, and the Crusaders walked away with a 14-point win.
Dennis Smith Jr. led Trinity in scoring with 22 points. Sophomore Kwe Parker scored 13 points, Alonzo Tyson scored 12 and Lee Moore scored 11.
Seventh Woods finished the game with 42 points--tied for seventh all time in a Holiday Invitational game. He shot 14-of-23 from the field and 7-of-11 from deep. Only three other Hammond players scored in the game. Chevez Goodwin had 12 points, Xavier McDonald had seven and Spencer Carlson had four.
"Seventh is really good and he hit a lot of really tough shots," said Vandevender. "The big thing we wanted to do was try to make all of his touches tough and make him earn everything he got. We had good shot pressure and as a coach from a defensive standpoint, I can live with that.
"All I can do is ask these guys to contain the ball and make sure we pressure the shot, and he just hit some unbelievable shots and that's why he's a great player. But I thought we did well."
The first eight minutes of the game looked more like a highlight reel for both sides. After a quick three points from Woods in the opening minutes, Trinity took a 6-3 lead on an ally-oop connection by Parker. Playing above the rim, the Crusaders added several more explosive dunks in the quarter to take a fast 18-9 lead into the second quarter.
Scoring from all pieces of the Trinity roster helped the Crusaders continue to pull away in the second quarter. The team led 41-21 at halftime. The lead increased in the third quarter and the game appeared to be over before the final eight minutes began.
"That Trinity team was a very talented team. Very athletic, very good interchangeable parts--athletic guards, forwards and a lot of leapers, and we had our hands full," said Hammond head coach Mark McClam. "But Seventh had a great second half and kept us in the game."
Woods' scoring output in the fourth quarter allowed the Skyhawks to begin the period on a 14-6 run. The momentum shifted as the guard accumulated seven makes from beyond the arc in the quarter. The mark was one shy of the Holiday Invitational single-game record for three-pointers.
"I knew my shot was going to fall," Woods said. "It fell kind of late, but I kept shooting and kept my confidence up."
Trinity silenced the comeback late in the quarter behind two big dunks from Smith Jr. and one more from Parker. Despite late excitement and a remarkable shooting performance, Hammond could not come up with stops in the final minutes as Trinity rolled to the win.
Trinity (14-1) will advance in the Summit Hospitality bracket to play the winner of a Thursday-night match-up between Word of God and Houston, TX Homeschool Christian Youth Association. The second-round game will be played Friday night at 8:30. The Crusaders are the first Fayetteville team in 14 years to compete in the Holiday Invitational.
"Before the game I'm nervous because I know a lot of eyes are going to be on me," Parker said. "But during the game as soon as the ball goes in the air I just feel like I'm in an open gym ready to play."
Woods and Hammond (8-2) will play the loser of WOG vs. HCYA on Friday at 1 p.m.
Follow Zach Mayo on Twitter at @ZachMayoHSOT
This story is closed for comments.