By Randy Whalen
The future looks bright for Shepard.
Unfortunately, the 2019-20 season ended suddenly – if not unexpectedly – last week in a .40-37 loss to Andrew in the Class 4A Shepard Regional.
The Thunderbolts entered the matchup losers of 20 consecutive games, with their last win coming over the Astros on Dec. 16 in Tinley Park.
Shepard led most of the way, but the postseason opening-round game got away from them at the end.
The Astros (9-20) had won three of four games to the end of the regular season and was hoping that momentum would carry into the postseason. But it was 17th-seeded Andrew that rallied to win.
“We were a young team,” Shepard coach Ricky Gamino said, noting sophomore guards Kelly Greene and Ashley Marek – two of seven sophomores on the squad — were starters and freshman Delaney Doyle played a significant role. “So the future looks promising.”
The loss was the final game for the Astros’ two seniors, but center Danielle De los Santos didn’t play. De los Santos had been out of the lineup since Jan. 2 with a high ankle sprain.
The other senior, Mackenzie Jasudowicz, did all she could in her final high school game. The forward poured in a team-high 16 points, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Astros going for another game.
“We really thought we were going to win but it just didn’t happen,” Jasudowicz said. “I had been in a slump, but I played confident and wanted to leave everything on the floor.”
Jasudowicz helped Shepard to a 12-11 lead after one quarter by scoring nine points. Junior guard Sauni Doty (11 points) had eight points in the first half and hit a 3-pointer with 1:14 left in the first half to give the Astros a 19-13 halftime lead.
Jasudowicz scored her final points on a layup and junior post player Jasmine Duffy (7 points) hit four straight free throws to give Shepard its largest lead at 30-22 with 3:12 left in the quarter. The Astros led 31-26 after three.
Dotty deposited a three-pointer off the backboard with 5:23 left in the game to put the Astros ahead 36-31. That, however, would be their final basket of the game as Andrew sophomore Katie DeHaan scored on a layup with 48 seconds left to give the T-Bolts the lead for good.
Shepard had a shot to tie it, but Gianna Spain’s 3-point attempt banked off the backboard and rim at the buzzer.
While most of the roster is expected to return next season, the Astros will miss De los Santos and Jasudowicz.
“It was MacKenzie’s last game and she played really solid,” Gamino said. “She’s a great kid and did a lot for us.”
Jasudowicz, who plans to play basketball in college but has not committed anywhere, will miss playing at Shepard.
“I will just remember the team, we’ve been a family,” she said. “I will also remember that the program exploded with positivity everywhere.”