By Zach Braziller
PHILADELPHIA — Savon Goodman said he took what the defense gave him: multiple powerful dunks that brought the capacity crowd to its feet.
In a matchup of nationally ranked forwards, the 6-foot-6 senior stole the show in the opener of the fifth annual Villa Holiday Classic at Ben Franklin High School in Philadelphia Sunday.
He poured in 46 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, leading Constitution to an 80-72 victory over Cardozo and Jermaine Lawrence — starting off the day well for the City of Brotherly Love in the NYC vs. Philly showcase after it was swept last year.
“I wasn’t in it last year, but I got the memo,” said Goodman, whose 46 points were the most ever given up by a Cardozo team under Ron Naclerio, the coach said.
Lawrence started fast, scoring eight first-quarter points, but Goodman closed even faster. He scored 17 of Constitution’s final 18 points, many of them around the hoop. He finished the first half with a flourish as well, sinking a three-pointer, coming up with a steal and throwing down a reverse dunk as the Generals led 37-28 at halftime.
“This is my city,” said Goodman, who has drawn interest from a myriad of high-major Division I programs like USC, Kentucky, St. John’s, Kansas and Memphis since reopening his recruitment. “I was trying to show out for my home crowd.”
Daiquan Walker added 15 points for Constitution (3-5) while Omar Williams led Cardozo with 15 points. Lawrence and Kendall Brown had 12 apiece and Tajay Henry had 10.
Cardozo never went away, despite multiple double-digit deficits. The Judges got within 60-59 on a Kendall Brown three-pointer with 5:49 left. But Goodman made a free throw to start a 14-4 run in which he scored 13 points. As part of the barrage, he beat the Cardozo press for a layup, threw down an alley-oop and made five free throws.
“He’s tall, athletic, he’s big — it’s hard to guard a player like that,” Lawrence said. “We didn’t communicate well enough. He was getting a lot of easy cuts, a lot of alleys.”
Lawrence, highly recruited like Goodman, faulted himself for settling for too many jump shots after his quick start. Cardozo also struggled to get him the ball in good position as Constitution began throwing extra defenders at him.
“All I could do was pass,” he said.
It was a disappointing result for Cardozo (6-2), which had won three in a row and was looking to start 2012 with a marquee victory in front of a packed house. There were good signs, particularly in the backcourt where Williams and Brown played well.
“Every time we went on a run they did something big or we killed ourselves,” Naclerio said. “Unfortunately, we got kids who are hot and cold. We need them to be more hot than cold.”
It doesn’t get easier for the Judges, who will take on defending New York State Federation Class AA champion Mount Vernon and CHSAA Class AA contender St. Raymond in non-league showcase tournaments.
“If this is overwhelming,” Naclerio said, “maybe I have to cancel some of the games I have coming up.”