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RH: AfterShocks advances to third round on Monday


Aftershocks | 23/07/2022 22:15:00

By Paul Suellentrop

Darral Willis watched last summer’s AfterShocks from behind the scenes. He enjoyed returning to Koch Arena as a spectator.

He’s having even more fun on the court in his debut with the AfterShocks. Willis, who played for Wichita State from 2016-18, scored 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting in 19 minutes to help the AfterShocks defeat the Air Raiders 70-60 on Saturday in the second round of the basketball tournament.

The AfterShocks advance to the third round of TBT for a second consecutive season. They play at Bleed Green (North Texas alumni) at 8 p.m. (ESPN2).

Conner Frankamp led the AfterShocks with 21 points, making 7 of 12 shots. He is 11 of 18 from the field in both games.

Willis, who scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Friday’s 83-52 win over We Are D3, gives the AfterShocks exactly what coaches and teammates have been waiting for. His left-handed shot stays lethal and his energy and jumping ability pay off with rebounds.

“He gives us a sense of confidence – no matter what you’re going to have that killer dog mentality,” said teammate Zach Brown. “He’s always had that. That’s what’s made him successful to this day – he’s not backing down.”

This is what Willis wants to be known for.

“I’m just a soldier,” he said. “I’m not backing down.”

Willis, a 6-foot-9 forward, gave the AfterShocks the lead with his six-point flurry to start the fourth quarter. He completed a three-point play, off an offensive rebound, to give the AfterShocks a 50-49 lead. His three-point shot from the top of the sideline made it 53-49.

“I’m so happy to be back in front of these fans,” he said. “I always love playing in front of them. Last year it really inspired me to come back. It’s a different feeling to play at Koch Arena.”

In two games, Willis is 10 for 13 from the field with 19 rebounds. On Saturday, when starting center James Dickey committed two early fouls, Willis replaced to go 13-2 with four points.

Willis played last season for BC Enisey in Russia and is yet to sign with a team for 2022-23.

“He’s one of the most talented offensive players you can have on your team,” said AfterShocks coach JR Simon. “Being athletic. Bouncing back. All of those things give us a huge spark.”

The AfterShocks wore down the Air Raiders, a team of ex-Texas Tech, with their depth and aggressive defense. They took a 13-2 lead. They edged the Air Raiders by 10 points in the fourth quarter. The Air Raiders ShawnDre Jones played over 30 minutes for a second straight night and Davion Warren wasn’t far behind with his workload.

The AfterShocks, with Rashard Kelly and Brown guiding the defense, trapped at key points to wear down the Air Raiders. Warren scored two points in the fourth quarter after scoring 21 in the first three. Jones finished with 16, four in the final quarter.

Warren made two foul shots to cut the lead to 56-53 with 6:17 remaining. The Air Raiders didn’t score again until 3:54 remained and the AfterShocks had built an eight-point lead.

Paul Suellentrop covers Wichita State Athletics and the American Athletic Conference for college strategic communications. Suggested story? Contact him at [email protected]