The Hot Read: It appeared as if it was heading toward a blowout. Thornton jumped to a 10-0 lead before Shepard realized what had hit them in Tuesday night's semifinal at the Class 4A Lincoln-Way North Regional. The Wildcat lead was extended to 26-9 at the end of one quarter and it appeared as if Shepard's season was going to end on the negative side of a blowout. But Shepard came to life and never quit, cutting the deficit to just five points late in the ballgame. Still, the Wildcats made enough free throws in the fourth quarter to avoid a colossal upset in a 63-58 win.
Patch's MVP: Shepard junior Martece Weatherspoon proved to be an offensive threat on the break as well as on set plays inside and beyond the three-point arc. Weatherspoon scored a game-high 24 points for the Astros and collected five rebounds.
Key Stats: The Astros got off to a miserable start, committing six turnovers in the opening quarter and falling behind by 17 points. They'd only commit 10 more turnovers the rest of the way. Thornton went 20-of-33 from the free-throw line, while Shepard converted 6-of-9. The Wildcats offensive contributions were well balanced as they had four players in double figures. Antonio Levy also had eight points. Shepard's bench produced 12 points and nine rebounds, while Thornton didn't have a field goal from its bench, but just two points and six rebounds.
Shepard Leaders: In addition to Weatherspoon's big offensive night, big-time contributors for the Astros included Jarrett Foster (15 points, 8 rebounds), Kevin Rathbun (6 points, 6 rebounds), Dionte Hart (6 points, 4 rebounds) and Dontae McCoy (6 points, 5 rebounds).
Thornton Leaders: Bernard Brame (14 points, 8 rebounds), Jay Parker (14 points, 5 rebounds), Stefan Beard (13 points) and Brian Greene Jr. (12 points, 5 rebounds).
Quotable I: Shepard coach Tony Chiuccariello on his team's effort: "Our seniors went out taking a great team like Thornton and battling all the way to the end. They showed what those seniors are made of."
Quotable II: Thornton coach Troy Jackson on the Astros ability to rally from a 17-points deficit and make it a competitive contest: "They just found a way to put the ball in the basket, and I don't think we played as smart as we could have down the stretch."
Team Records: Shepard finishes 13-15; Thornton is 24-2.
What's Next: Shepard 's season has now ended. Thornton will face the winner of Wednesday's game between Lincoln-Way East and Sandburg on Friday for the Lincoln-Way North Regional championship.
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