Boys Basketball: Shepard surprises Richards
By Tony Baranek email@example.com February 14, 2014 9:34PM
Shepard's Jacob Littleton blocks a shot by Richards' Dedrick Shannon Jr.|
Updated: February 16, 2014 2:13AM
Kyle Longfield picked a great night to get back in rhythm.
Jacob Littleton picked a great night to find his free-throw shooting eye.
The Shepard duo made it a tough night for Richards, which was denied the opportunity to celebrate clinching at least a tie for its ninth consecutive conference title.
“It definitely feels great,” Longfield said after Friday’s 71-67 South Suburban Red victory. “The best thing about it is that we played as a team. Everything was clicking well with all of us, and it feels great from that aspect of it.”
Longfield had 20 points and eight rebounds and Littleton 19 points as the Astros (9-13, 6-4) stayed alive in the league race.
Richards (14-10, 7-3) was led by Josh Meier (23 points, 13 rebounds), Spencer Tears (16 points) and Dedrick Shannon Jr. (11 points).
The 6-foot-4 Longfield, who returned just a few games back from a fractured bone in his right foot, was a neutralizing factor against the 6-7 Meier.
“He’s hard to stop,” Longfield said. “We have a great coach (Tony Chiuccariello) and we said whenever he got the ball we had to double down and double team him. We did the best we could, but hey, he’s a D-I talent, he’s going to get his. But we did our best as a team to stop him.”
The ultimate difference-maker was Littleton, who went 8-of-8 from the foul line and totaled 12 points in the fourth period.
Richards beat Shepard 82-55 on Nov. 25 when the two teams met at the District 218 Tipoff Classic.
This time the Astros refused to let the Bulldogs get away during a sloppy at times, but furiously played first three periods, which ended with Shepard in front 48-46.
Back-to-back slam dunks at the start of the fourth period by Meier on feeds from Shannon seemed to revitalize Richards. The Bulldogs led 54-53 with 5:38 remaining after two free throws by Tears.
Shepard didn’t wilt.
“I thought the guys were really resilient,” Chiuccariello said. “They bounced back at the other end. They played good defense the next possession. We gave up a few in a row, but they weathered the storm. I was proud of their effort.”
Nick Heidinger put Shepard back in front with back-to-back baskets. It was 61-60 Astros with 1:15 remaining when Littleton was fouled for the first of four times. On each trip he came away with two points.
“In practice that’s all we do is work on free throws, free throws, free throws,” Littleton said. “That’s it. Free throws can win or lose a game.”
Richards remains in front of the Red pack, but with three games remaining can’t get comfortable.
“If we continue to play this way and not play together, I don’t know if it’ll matter,” Richards coach John Chappetto said. “(Friday) we got outhustled, outplayed, outcoached, out-everythinged. Shepard played awesome, with a lot of energy.”