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Wednesday night, Shepard rode the hot shooting of Davontae Armwood, who poured in 28 points, to a win over Lincoln-Way East.
Thursday, the Astros were back to generating offense the way they normally do: with their defense.
Shepard forced nine turnovers in the first quarter, jumping to a 13-3 lead, and never looked back in a 57-40 win over Oak Forest in pool play of the Medieval Classic at Lincoln-Way East.
The win, coupled with Lincoln-Way West’s loss to Lincoln-Way East later Thursday night, clinched a berth in the championship game for Shepard (7-3).
“Our defense gets us going,” Shepard coach Tony Chiuccariello said. “We caused some disruption and got off to a good start.”
Armwood (9 rebounds) and Londell Lee (7 rebounds) paced a balanced attack for the Astros with 12 points each. Antionne Listenbee added 11 points and five rebounds.
Tom Zale led Oak Forest (5-7), which fell to 1-1 in the tournament, with 13 points.
The title game appearance will be Shepard’s first in its three years in the event.
Listenbee scored five points and Jacob Littleton (9 points, 8 rebounds) four in the first quarter as the Astros grabbed control.
Shepard’s pressure wreaked havoc, leading to several easy baskets.
“It’s what we’re always taught to put pressure on all the way, full court,” Lee said.
Shepard led 29-16 at the half, but the Bengals made a run. Zale scored seven points during a 14-3 surge that cut the lead to 37-30.
Darren Cohen came off the bench to right the ship for the Astros, scoring inside and nailing a trey to stretch the lead back to double digits for good.
For some of the Astros, including Lee and Jimmy McClinton (5 points, 5 rebounds) the win gave them a measure of revenge after Zale and the Bengals’ football team ended Shepard’s season in the playoffs.
“We just want to beat them in something,” Lee said. “This was our time.”
Dylan Ross (8 points, 9 rebounds) and Jason Roland (7 points) contributed for Oak Forest.
Lincoln-Way Central 68, Oak Lawn 44: Alex Parks (18 points), Andrew Ruswick (13) and Joe Newtoff (12) paced Lincoln-Way Central (6-6), which improved to 2-0 in pool play, at Lincoln-Way North. Shawn Cannon (16 points) and DeQwon McGowan (11) led Oak Lawn (2-9), which fell to 0-2.
Lincoln-Way East 76, Lincoln-Way West 37: Isaiah Moss scored 15 points and Chris DeRubertis added 13 points and five rebounds as East (5-4) rolled to improve to 1-1 in pool play. Hayden Witt scored 25 points for West (1-10), which fell to 0-2.