Shepard-led Apollos get a win
The senior post scores 20 points in his team's 74-57 win over Aloha
CEDAR MILL - Garrett Sim had been awaiting the day good friend Greg Shepard joined him on the Sunset boys basketball team.
That time came this season, giving the No. 3-ranked Apollos the big man they needed to bang inside.
The 6-foot-7 Shepard proved he can do more than that, stepping outside to drain three 3-pointers in a 20-point effort that led Sunset to a 74-57 victory over Aloha in both school's Metro League opener
When Sim got in foul trouble in the first half of Friday's game at Sunset, Shepard stepped up to pace a high-energy offense that took off after a slow start.
'I'm so happy he came,' said Sim of Shepard, who transferred from Westview. 'He made the difference on this team. Greg hit some big shots and kept us in it.'
Sunset missed its first eight shots and trailed 10-7 when its offense got a spark from the defense. Sim, who had 18 points, tipped a Warrior pass to himself then raced to the hoop for a two-hand dunk. Shepard stole Aloha's ensuing inbound pass and fed Phillip Campbell for a layin and 11-10 lead.
The crowd erupted, the Warriors called a timeout and the Apollos never trailed again in improving to 14-2 on the season.
'That jumpstarted our half,' Sim said. 'That got the crowd going and gave us the energy we needed.'
But the Apollos didn't stop there, continuing on a 16-0 run until midway through the second quarter.
'At the start, a lot of guys were nervous,' Shepard said. 'We had to calm down and play our basketball. We knew the shots would fall sooner or later.'
Aloha, who fell to 6-10, got as close as 27-23 and trailed 30-23 at halftime despite shooting 30 percent (8 of 27) and enduring a scoreless stretch of nearly six minutes.
'We didn't shoot well but were only down seven points at half,' Aloha coach Thomas Bendt said. 'Then they went on a run. We didn't have enough timeouts to stop their momentum every time they went on a run.'
Sunset scored the first nine points of the second half and added another 9-0 spurt after a 3-pointer by Aloha's AJ Stephenson to open up a 48-26 lead and all but put the game away.
'We started out real well,' Aloha senior guard Zach Parent said. 'But we didn't keep our composure. (At halftime) coach tried to get the fire in our eyes but they went on a big run and that took it out of some of us.'
The same could be said for early in the game as well. Junior Marcus Smith and Stephenson, who tied Michael Boswell with a team-high 12 points, each hit 3-pointers with Stephenson's giving the Warriors a 10-6 lead.
Sunset started 1-of-11 from the floor but took off after Sim's steal and jam and Campbell's subsequent swipe and dish to Shepard for an 11-10 lead.
The Apollos didn't trail again as Shepard buried a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left in the first quarter. Michael Holton's scoop layin made it 20-10 early in the second quarter. Sunset capped its 16-0 run when Holton drove and dished to Shepard for a layin and 22-10 lead.
'We love to run,' Sim said. 'It's so fun to play. We're really clicking and understanding right now.'
Sim picked up his third foul and Aloha closed the gap with Boswell taking a pass from Patrick Prince for a two-hand dunk. Jordan Gragg added a 3-pointer as the Warriors drew to 27-23 before Shepard, who had 12 first-half points, buried a deep 3-pointer with 30 seconds left in the first half.
Campbell, who had 11 points, scored on a turnaround jumper and then a layin to start the second half. Tyler Parker added a 3-point play and Shepard capped a 9-0 run with a dunk from Sim off the fast break after a Ryan Bennett steal.
Sim said the Apollos practice dunking 'all the time.'
'We try to get crazy,' Shepard added. 'We're just enjoying basketball right now.'
Shepard rattled in a 3-pointer and Sim added a putback after a Shepard steal as Sunset built its lead to 48-26. Aloha never got closer than 19 points as Sim poured in 10 of his 18 points in the final frame starting with a 3-pointer for a 55-32 lead with 7:45 left in the game.
Boswell had seven points in the fourth quarter when the teams went nearly shot for shot.
'I give the kids in the fourth quarter credit,' Bendt said. 'They kept battling and didn't quit.'
Aloha forward Petter Overton-Harris had six of his 10 points and eight Warriors scored in the fourth but the damage had been done.
'Simple little things let us down,' Parent said. 'We need to talk on defense and play together as a team. Everyone has talent and can get the job done.'
Sunset did and started 1-0 in Metro play.
'That's how we wanted to come out,' Sim said. 'Make a statement.'