Wichita native Conner Frankamp sends the Aftershocks to the TBT Quarterfinals

For the second straight game, Conner Frankamp nailed the game-winning shot for the Aftershocks, this time with a three-pointer to cap off another thrilling victory, as the Wichita State alumni team won 69-65 over Team Challenge ALS on Tuesday night.

“Unbelievable heart, effort and that’s what this program’s been built on for the last 10-plus years,”  Aftershocks head coach Zach Bush said. “These guys just fight, they don’t say die, they find a way. This dude, big shot after big shot after shot in the Elam all week. So much fun, I don’t want the ride to end.”

Charles Koch Arena recorded the second-largest crowd (6,510) in TBT history — second only to the AfterShocks’ debut game at Koch Arena in 2019 (7,154). The AfterShocks now advance to Dayton, Ohio for the quarterfinals of the tournament on July 31.

Similar to their win over the Omaha Blue Crew, the AfterShocks trailed entering the Elam Ending, 60-58 but were able to pull off another late comeback.

“We know there’s a target score so we have to get stops, that’s the main thing,” Frankamp said. “We feel that we can get a pretty good look almost every time so if we can get a certain amount of stops in a row, we feel like we have a good chance to go ahead and win the game.”

The Aftershocks once again jumped off to a quick start with five straight points from Clevin Hannah to give them a 63-62 lead. Challenge ALS quickly responded with a three from Justin Dentmon to retake the lead, 65-63. The Aftershocks would have the answer with Tyrus McGee putting them on top 66-65 with a three of his own.

Both teams would have multiple chances to end it but the AfterShocks finally ended it with McGee starting a fast break and finding Frankamp for the game-winning three-pointer.

“It’s just fitting that it would be Conner, it’s Conner every time in this,” Bush said. “He deserves it so much. All the hardships he went through of going to Kansas and not making it and that’s hard as a Kansas kid. But to do the things he’s done here and now professionally, he’s hungry, people doubt him and he keeps proving them wrong.”

One of the keys entering the game was how the undersized Aftershocks would match up with a much bigger Team Challenge ALS but the WSU alumni were able to rise to the challenge. The Aftershocks won  the rebounding battle by five, while also collecting nine offensive rebounds. 

“That just speaks so much to this program and it continues to flow out of it, the toughness, never say die. These guys just buy in and compete and it makes it so much fun to be a part of this.”

David DiLeo provided a big spark off the bench in victory, nailing his first three triples of the game. DiLeo, the all-time MAC leader in three-point field goals, entered the game 0-11 during his TBT debut but was able to make his impact felt on Tuesday.

DiLeo said he didn’t lose confidence in his shot— despite his slow start.

“I always have confidence the next one is going down so, I knew it was only a matter of time,” DiLeo said. “But I kind of went into the game knowing that once the first one goes down, kind of playing to the crowd a little bit.”

Although Zach Brown’s stats don’t jump off the stat sheet, his performance was also crucial in the win. Brown arrived late to Wichita following an NBA workout with the Houston Rockets and has played a crucial role on the defensive end in the three games. On Tuesday, Brown collected two steals and three rebounds while also being tasked with the toughest defensive matchup. 

Bush said that Brown and his teammates focus on defense is a key part to why they’re still alive in TBT.

“I think in this tournament there’s too many pretty boys and we’ve got some dogs on this team,” Bush said. “We’ve got dudes that fight and battle and don’t want to just score points but want to get stops and get rebounds.”

After playing three games in six days, the Aftershocks will have an 11-day break before quarterfinals action begins in Dayton. 

Frankamp said the time off will be crucial for the team to get rejuvenated before they continue the tournament.

“I know it’ll be important to have a couple days off, I mean maybe not 11 or whatever but to have a couple days to kind of get the mind reset after these high wins and kind of get recovery and getting the body back to normal,” Frankamp said.