Wichitan Conner Frankamp turned in two outstanding performances to lead the Wichita Aftershocks to the third round of ESPN’s $1million winner-take-all The Basketball Tournament. The first two rounds of the Wichita regional, held in Wichita State University’s Charles Koch Arena, lived up to its hype with both games decided in the last few possessions.
In Friday’s matchup against the Ex-Pats, The Aftershocks started slow trailing 21-19 going into the second half. The Aftershocks would explode after the break, Rashard Kelly's 16-point, 13-rebound night, and Conner Frankamp's 15 points led the way.
Frankamp then hit a three-pointer for a 58-51 edge, and Kelly answered an ex-Pats bucket hitting the target score of 60, holding off a valiant effort from the ex-Pats (former Patriot League players).
This tournament incorporates the Elam ending, which involves teams shooting for a target score rather than getting as many points as possible before the clock runs out. That target score is the winning team's point total after the first under-four timeout of the fourth quarter plus eight points.
This victory secured a meeting with the Omaha Blue Crew, a rivalry dating back to Wichita State's Missouri Valley Conference days, in the TBT on Sunday.
WSU and Creighton haven’t met in an NCAA game since 2013 when the latter moved to the Big East Conference. The Shockers have been members of the American Athletic Conference since 2017.
In a tight game from start to finish, Both teams shot very well and there were multiple lead changes. Conner Frankamp made a layup after an inbound pass was stolen by Markis McDuffie to send the AfterShocks to the third round of the TBT.
“They were the craziest five seconds I’ve been a part of, and I’ve played a lot of basketball in my life,” Frankamp said. “We stayed together after we had that turnover and got one more stop and we were able to finish the game.”
Frankamp was outstanding the whole night, ending with 24 points and five assists. When the AfterShocks were behind 67-63 with the Elam Ending about to begin. He made two crucial shots to pull the AfterShocks back, and his layup sealed the deal, sending Charles Koch Arena into a frenzy.
“It was one of those games where it felt like one step forward, and two steps back,” Head Coach Zach Bush said. “You know, we hit a big shot, then they get an offensive rebound put-back.”
Frankamp's output has been amazing in the fourth quarter: Scoring 38 points on 14 of 18 shooting — or 9.5 points per game on 78 percent shooting in the fourth quarter alone.
The Aftershocks will return to Koch arena to face Team Challenge ALS in the regional championship game this Tuesday at 8 p.m., with a spot in the TBT quarterfinals in Dayton on the line. Tuesday’s game will air on the ESPN family of networks.
Tickets for Tuesday’s game will be half-price for local supporters who wish to show their support for the AfterShocks. Tickets begin at $8 and are available online at https://goshockers.com/sports/tickets