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Girls Basketball: Hillcrest tops T.F. South for second straight South Suburban Blue title

Hillcrest 65, T.F. South 52

Hillcrest coach John Maniatis has seen snippets of it here, snippets of it there.

One of the first Hawks off the bench all season, sophomore Joshulyn Shepherd has been a reliable defender, a solid inside scorer.

But Wednesday? It all clicked for Shepherd, and it came when Hillcrest needed it most.

With the conference title on the line, Shepherd came through with 21 points and eight rebounds for Hillcrest, the Hawks executing down the stretch for a 65-52 win at T.F. South.

“Joshulyn came to life for us today,” Maniatis said. “She’s been slowly but surely and steadily improving. Tonight was that residue of all the hard work and commitment she’s put in. She was flying out there.”

The South Suburban Blue title was the program’s second in a row, and 15th of 17th overall dating back to the SICA conference.

It was an accomplishment not lost on the young sophomore.

“It’s a big thing for us (including the seniors),” Shepherd said. “I love that they can depend on me. They can get me the ball and have faith that I’m going to get that shot up.”

With the starting frontcourt of Shayla Joyner (9 points, 8 rebounds) and Tierra Sanders (10 points, 8 rebounds) playing through foul trouble, the 5-foot-11 Shepherd came through inside.

The Hawks leading just 36-33 to start the fourth, Shepherd drew a foul and sunk both free throws. Nadika Jackson (8 points) added a bucket inside before Shepherd made a hard move to the basket for the score.

The sophomore scored six of Hillcrest’s first eight points in the quarter, the Hawks going up 44-38.

“In the post, I adjust myself depending how big, how small the defender is,” Shepherd said. “I’ve got to make smart decisions and with playoffs next week, I had to show I deserved to be out there.”

Shepherd added two more baskets late, one that sealed the win on a nice pass from Tanzania Sherrill (12 points, 4 steals) to go up 60-50 with 18 seconds left. Aliah Acker added five points and four steals for Hillcrest (20-5, 13-0).

Ren’Cia Rolling (19 points) and Ninah Bertrand (17 points) led T.F. South (20-5, 11-2) on the Senior Day loss.

“We needed a few breaks, a few rolls,” South coach Steve Breshock said. “Our kids battled all the way to the end. We’ve been shorter than everyone we played this year, and I couldn’t be prouder.”



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