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Hemphill Leads Hawks Past CCA

It took the Cardinal O’Hara Hawks a quarter to wake up, but in the end a hot shooting performance in the final 24 minutes along with a Justin Hemphill triple double propelled them to a 85-66 win over Christian Central Academy.

Despite the final score coming off as a big win for the Hawks, the first quarter belonged to the Crusaders. CCA came out of the gates on fire, hitting their first three shots from downtown. The Hawks on the other hand were having no luck at all, missing 7 three point attempts. A Ben Lekeuneu buzzer beating layup, which rounded out his nine point quarter, gave CCA a 22-9 lead.

The second quarter is when things got interesting. After a slow start, things got a little testy during a stoppage in play after a Justin Hemphill block. O’Hara’s Rene Velazquez was handed a technical following the extra curriculars, and CCA’s Jared Moser received a technical later on in the quarter. After Velazquez’s tech, a switch seemed to flip for O’Hara and the team began to catch fire. The Hawks finished the half on a 12-2 run, giving them a two point lead at the break, 34-32, in a half that contained 24 total fouls.

The Hawks continued where they left off in the first half into the third. O’Hara scored on 4/5 shots from behind the arc to start the quarter, three of which came from Nasir Benton, who took over the game in the third. Benton couldn’t seem to miss if he tried, nailing shots from all over the court. His 13 point quarter helped give the Hawks a 63-49 lead after three. When asked what he was thinking during his spree, a short, confident answer sufficed.

“Give me the ball,” said Benton following the win.

A fourth quarter of fast paced scoring, which seemed to be the theme of the game itself, and basket trading led to the clock dwindling down and the eventual end of the game.

Benton had a career high 18 points for the Hawks in the end, but it was Justin Hemphill who had the performance of the night. Hemphill dropped 20 points and 14 rebounds, as well as an impressive 11 assists to give him the first triple double of his career.

Hawks head coach Tony Pulvirenti didn’t love the way his team started out, but was extremely happy with the end result.

“We came out flat but we didn’t give up. We outscored them every other quarter and put them away in the start of the third,” said Pulvirenti. “We’re a young team, I never know what I’m going to get. I’m glad we finished well and played good defense, it was a good win.”

The Crusaders were led by Josh Tyson and Ben Lekeneu who put up 20 and 13 points respectively. CCA head coach Sil Dan took the loss as a bit of a learning experience.

“Our team is more disciplined and structured, we got caught up in fast paced play, and that proved to be one of our weakness,” said Dan.

The win puts O’Hara at 7-5 on the year, as well as 3-1 in MMAA league play. With the loss, CCA now sits at 1-2 in MMAA league play.

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