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RH: "We handled the business"

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Aftershock | Jul 27, 2022 11:21:00 PM

Byline of Paul Suerentrop

Darall Willis jumped down the Koch Arena tunnel and yelled, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’re going for Millie.” Speaking into his cell phone surrounded by his family, James Woodard repeated, “We protect. We protect.”

Willis and Woodard were right. AfterShocks are two wins away from splitting $1 million from The Basketball Tournament. This is mainly because they defend in a way that they can counteract. Joining a night of red-hot shooting, AfterShocks has him 4-0 and for the first time ever he heads into the TBT semi-finals.

The AfterShocks, carried by 12 3-pointers, defeated the Gutter Cat Gang 74-67 in front of 4,569 fans in the TBT quarterfinals on Wednesday. AfterShocks will face Florida TNT or Americana for Autism in the semifinals on Saturday at 5:00 PM ESPN in Dayton, Ohio.

‘We won’t back down now’ Aftershocks moving forward Marquis McDuffie Said. “We’ve got to go through there and get that millie.”

Aftershock gave Shocker fans a final thrill before leaving for Dayton. They circled the arena giving high fives and hugs and soaking up the cheers from the fans. Those fans tipped almost three hours before he lined up. Those fans wore black and yellow in the shirts and hats he proudly wore to home games, St. Louis, Fort Worth, and to his NCAA Tournament venues across the country. Those fans saw the former Shockers emerge as young college athletes, lived together for years, passed away, and now see them as professionals.

“It was great tonight,” Willis said. “I could hear all the fans in the stands. It was so loud.”

AfterShocks aren’t taking all of their increased Shocker crowd to Ohio. They capitalize on their desire to play defense, their shared Shocker background, and their versatile roster. Even after defeating his three players, starters Zach Brown (injured) and Tyrus McGee, and reserve Shaq Morris, Aftershocks had the answer for his gutter cat his gang.

McDuffie scored 17 points, including two 3-pointers in the second quarter, for a 7-point deficit. McDuffie hit 4 of his 6 3s and helped AfterShocks go 12 of 18 from behind the arc.

“I can’t believe it,” said McDuffie.

 

Willis scored 15 points and made all three 3-pointers. Rashard Kelly He had 6 assists in the 4th quarter and took on important ball-handling duties. Woodard recorded 5 assists and his 9 points, including the winning layup.

“The chemistry is already there,” Willis said. “They tend to find me in the right places.”

AfterShocks didn’t dominate the Gutter Cats on defense like it did in previous games. However, in the 4th quarter, AfterShocks kept the pressure on and used the stops to pull away. They held the Guttercats to 4-of-11 shooting in the final period and forced 3 turnovers, 2 of which aftershock turned into baskets.

Woodard’s clinch layup came after Kelly’s steal. A McDuffie dunk after the traveling call made it 69-65.

‘The way they sit, lock in and defend has improved a lot,’ says coach Zach Bush Said. “There are a lot of teams in tournaments who don’t want to do that.”

In that moment, McDuffie praised fans for pushing and lifting Aftershock. When about 5,000 fans went out to see one night in July, the only acceptable response was to work for them.

“It’s hard to get out without playing hard,” McDuffie said. “They yell at everything you do.”

After losing in the quarterfinals to Florida TNT in Dayton last summer, AfterShocks (92-63) took another step toward reaching the semifinals. The addition of Willis and Woodard to the roster gives them more offense without sacrificing defense.the core of connor frankamp, Samaje Haynes-JonesKelly, Brown and McDuffie are back for another run.

After Monday’s victory over Breed Green, the coach Zach Bush He told the team he understands if a player has commitments to take off the roster. However, he reminded them that this team had an opportunity to win TBT.On Wednesday, Aftershock kept that belief alive.

“We are in a money tournament,” Bush said. “We’ve handled the business. Now it’s a reality. Now it’s hard.”

Paul Suerentrop Covers the Wichita State Athletics and the American Athletic Conference for College Strategic Communications. Story suggestions? Please contact him at paul.suellentrop@wichita.edu.

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