When Constitution sophomore Keshaun Hammonds was a youngster, his favorite wrestler was WWE superstar John Cena.
Whenever Cena appeared, part of his theme song would announce, "the champ is here," and a nickname was born.
Tuesday afternoon at the Giant Center in Hershey, "Champ" Hammonds led the Generals to an 81-71 victory in the Class 2A finale against District 7's Our Lady of Sacred Heart.
Constitution (21-11), which claimed its fourth PIAA title and first since 2015, had recently had trouble finishing opponents after accumulating large leads.
Coach Rob Moore's team had no such problems against the Chargers. The Generals hit 9 of 10 free throws in the final frame to help secure the victory when they had struggled from the line in previous contests.
"What really felt great was being able to close out games," Moore said. "It's been our weakness at times … so being able to close out today was big for us."
Earlier, he said: "It feels great for the kids, it feels great for the school. We had a lot of energy. We had 4 buses of kids, and we're a small school, so to get [them] to come up and cheer our kids on, it felt great."
In the semifinals against Holy Cross, the Generals led, 36-12, in the first half before the Cougars got within four points in the fourth quarter.
In last year's Class 2A final, Constitution led Sewickley Academy by double digits in the first half before losing in overtime.
Moore knew his team was capable of holding the fort because it had finished off Archbishop Carroll, among others, earlier this season.
With Hammonds shooting 9 of 14 from the field and 4 of 8 from the three-point line, that certainly helped. So did his five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
The 6-foot(ish) sophomore finished with team-high 23 points, including 16 at halftime, which yielded a a 41-36 edge.
Perhaps more important, Hammonds added five points in a row during a critical fourth-quarter stretch that turned a four-point lead to nine with 1 minute, 46 seconds left. While the bus loads of Constitution supporters went wild.
"He was amazing tonight," Moore said. "That's a sophomore. … He was there last year, so he knew what it was [like]."
Moore said Hammonds was the only freshman to ever start for him. That experience was key to his poise this year.
"Last year I was very nervous," Hammonds said. "This year I wasn't nervous at all. Not at all. I felt a different feeling, I wanted to win. I wanted to win last year, but this year I thought we were going to get it done for sure."
In addition to Hammonds, senior guard Damon Wall and junior forward Jabari Merritt were significant. Merritt finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Wall added 17 points and savvy down the stretch.
"Lately in the states," said Wall, who transferred from Doane Academy in December, "I hadn't been playing too well, but my team kept me in it and winning games and I just wanted to step up big in my last game."
Seniors Leeron Wills-Worthy and Jahmir Marable-Williams were also standouts. Marable-Williams had seven assists and four steals, while Wills-Worthy had eight rebounds, eight points and a quality defensive effort.
The Chargers (26-4) were led by junior wing Austin Wigley's 25 points. Freshman Dante Spadafora added 13 points, which all came in the first half.
Constitution 20 21 20 20 81
OLSH 17 19 17 18 71
C: Keshaun Hammonds 23, Jabari Merritt 18, Damon Wall 17, Jahmir Marable-Williams 11, Leeron Wills-Worthy 8, Tyree Mitchell 2, Abdul Riggins 2.