Aftershocks outlast Ex-Pats, keep $1 million dream alive

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Lena Ahallaq/ The Sunflower

Aftershocks’s Connor Frankamp looks to shoot during the Wichita Regional on Friday, July 16.

The Aftershocks won its opening-round game of the TBT over the Ex-Pats on Friday, 60-53. 

For the first time since March 2020, a full-capacity crowd was allowed in Charles Koch Arena. Over 4,000 fans packed into Charles Koch Arena on Friday night to watch Wichita State’s alumni team, the Aftershocks, take on the Ex-Pats, a team made up of Patriot League Alumni.

The Aftershocks found themselves down early in the first quarter after the Ex-Pats took an early 13-7 lead. The Aftershocks’ offensive struggles carried over into the second quarter as they finished the half shooting 22% from the field. Despite that, the Wichita State alumni found themselves only down by two points at the half.

“I think we knew this would be a dogfight,” Aftershocks head coach Zach Bush said. “They would be tough, organized, play well together. I’m just proud of these guys for sticking together, it’s hard when shots aren’t falling. You start questioning a lot of things about the game, yourself but we just stayed with it.”

The Aftershocks quickly responded out of the gates in the second half and got the crowd back into the game. The WSU alumni outscored the Ex-Pats 21-15 in the third quarter, while also taking their first lead of the game. 

The WSU alumni quickly built a seven-point advantage in the fourth quarter but the Ex-Pats would quickly respond. Prentiss Nixon would connect on a pair jump shots, cutting the Aftershocks’ lead to one. 

Heading into the Elam Ending to close things out, the Aftershocks held on to a three-point cushion, needing eight points to secure their first-round victory. The AfterShocks converted two straight triples and a layup from Rashard Kelly to advance to the second round. 

Former Shockers Rashard Kelly and Conner Frankamp were crucial in the victory, with the pair combining for 31 points and nine of the final 12 points. 

Frankamp said their chemistry is still there even though their WSU careers have passed.

“We’ve seemed to play pretty well our entire careers together,” Frankamp said. “We know each other’s game pretty well. He’s great at getting people open and he’s a great finisher as well. Having him on the team is a great addition obviously.”

One of the unique things TBT added throughout the years is the Elam Ending. In the final four minutes of the game, the clock is turned off and the first team to reach the Target Score is the winner. 

Frankamp said that because of the unique nature of the Elam Ending, it can take some adjusting.

“It’s obviously different from what we’re used to,” Frankamp said. “It’s quite nerve wracking honestly knowing there’s a Target Score you have to get to. So sometimes shots can be a bit tight but we were able to knock some down. I feel that in an Elam Ending gettins stops is extremely important and we were able to do that.”

The Aftershocks struggled offensively throughout, ending the game shooting 37.7% from the field and 27% on three-pointers. 

Bush said that nerves played a factor in the team’s slow start to the tournament.

“I think it’s tough. That opening game there’s nerves, you’re playing a lot of times in a new environment. It’s all great in practice when nobody’s there, now you get a lot of people here and you’re on TV, for us we’re on national television. You feel the pressure a little bit.”

With the win, the Aftershocks are set to play the Omaha Blue Crew, a team filled of Creighton alumni, on Sunday at 3 p.m.

“This was a blast and we didn’t even play very well,” Bush said. “So, imagine we play well, we make shots and we’ve got a rival here that we’ve been itching to play since they left the Valley then we left the Valley. For now, this is as close as you’re going to get.”