For host Shepard, the plan coming into Monday night’s Class 4A regional quarterfinal was simple: play fast, start fast and put Hubbard away early.
The Astros did just that, jumping to a 22-5 lead after one quarter and rolling to a 69-41 win in Palos Heights.
“We just had to go really fast,” Shepard’s Darren Cohen said. “Coach (Tony Chiuccariello) told us to play up-tempo and not underestimate them.”
Kyle Longfield finished with 17 points and five rebounds while Jacob Littleton scored 16 points and Cohen 12 to lead the Astros (11-16), who advanced to take on four-time defending state champion Simeon in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Deonte McReynolds poured in 26 points to lead all scores and added six rebounds for Hubbard (4-23).
Shepard started fast, jumping to leads of 8-0 and 13-2 as Cohen scored nine points in the first four minutes.
“Especially in a playoff game, you want to get out of the gates quickly,” Chiuccariello said. “We wanted to play fast. Darren did a good job coming out and attacking and I thought we did a good job getting the ball inside to our big guys.”
The Astros went on an 11-0 run over the final 3:52 of the first quarter and first 90 seconds of the second to extend the edge to 24-5. They led 35-16 at the half.
Longfield scored 11 points after the break to help assure there would be no comeback.
Aside from McReynolds, who was 9-of-23 from the field, Hubbard struggled to mount any offense against the Astros. The Greyhounds finished 15-of-48 from the floor. Shepard was 26-of-53.
“The key defensively was just moving our feet and staying in the gaps,” Longfield said.
Luther Driver had four points and five rebounds for Hubbard.
Lawson added six points for the Astros.
“It’s really exciting,” Longfield said. “We know they’re a great team with some great talents. We’re just going to come out like any other game and bring the intensity from the start.”