RH: “We were taking care of business.”

After the shock | 7/27/2022 11:21:00 PM

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as if Paul Suellentrop

Darrelle Willis came down the Koch Arena tunnel yelling, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re going to grind.” James Woodard followed, surrounded by family, talking on a cell phone and repeating, “We’re waiting, we’re waiting.”

Willis and Woodard got it right. The AfterShocks are two wins away from splitting $1 million from the basketball tournament, and that’s mostly because they play defense in a way that few can match. Mix in a red-hot shooting night and the AfterShocks are 4-0, heading into the TBT semifinals for the first time.

The AfterShocks, laden with 12 three-pointers, defeated the Gitter Cat Gang 74-67 in the TBT quarterfinals on Wednesday in front of 4,569 fans. The AfterShocks will play either Florida TNT or Americana for Autism in the semifinals Saturday at 5pm (ESPN) in Dayton, Ohio.

“There’s no going back now” AfterShocks forward Mark McDuffie he said. “We have to go through there and find that mill.”

Before heading to Dayton, AfterShocks gave their Shocker fans one last treat. They high-fived and embraced the stage, soaking up the cheers of their fans. Those fans lined up three hours before tip-off. Those fans wear their black and yellow, shirts and hats and proudly wear them to home games and to St. Louis and Fort Worth and NCAA Tournament locations around the country. Those fans have seen former Shockers come in as young college athletes, lived and died with them for years, and are now watching them as professionals.

“Tonight was amazing,” Willis said. “I could hear every fan in the stands. That’s the noise.”

AfterShocks doesn’t take all the pushed shocker crowd to Ohio. They share a desire to play defense, a shared Shocker background and a versatile roster. Even down three players — starters Zach Brown (injury) and Tyrus McGee and reserve Shaq Morris — the AfterShocks had answers for the Gutter Cat Gang.

McDuffie scored 17 points, including two three-pointers in the second quarter to cut a seven-point deficit. McDuffie hit four of six threes to help the AfterShocks go 12 of 18 from behind the arc.

“It’s unbelievable,” McDuffie said.

Willis scored 15 points and made all three three-pointers. Rashard Kelly He gave six assists and took important ball handling tasks in the fourth quarter. Woodard tallied five rebounds and nine points, including the game-winning layup.

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

The AfterShocks didn’t dominate the Gator Cats defensively like they did in previous games. In the fourth quarter, however, the AfterShocks kept up the pressure and used stops to pull away. They held the Gutter Cats to 4-of-11 shooting in the final period and forced three turnovers, two of which were converted baskets by AfterShocks.

Woodard’s clutch layup came after a steal by Kelly. A dunk by McDuffie made it 69-65 after a traveling call.

“It’s a big thing for these guys, the way they sit and lock down and defend,” Coach Zach Bush he said. “There are a lot of teams in the competition who don’t want to do that.”

In those moments, McDuffie credits the fans for pushing and lifting AfterShocks. With nearly 5,000 fans turning out to watch in July, working for them is only an acceptable response.

“It’s hard to go out there and not play hard,” McDuffie said. “They yell at everything you do.”

The AfterShocks, quarterfinal losers (92-63) to Florida TNT last summer in Dayton, took another step toward reaching the semifinals. The additions of Willis and Woods have given them offensive juice without destroying the defense. The main Connor Frankamp, Samaja Haynes-JonesKelly, Brown and McDuffie are back for another run.

Coach after Monday’s victory over Blade Green Zach Bush He told the team that the players were committed to taking them off the roster. However, he reminded them that this team had a chance to win TBT. On Wednesday, AfterShocks brought that belief to life.

“We’re in a money race,” Bush said. “We used to take care of business. Now it’s real. Now it’s serious.”

Paul Suellentrop Covers Wichita State athletics and the American Athletic Conference for university strategic relationships. A hint of history? Contact him at paul.suellentrop@wichita.edu.

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