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February certainly doesn’t disappoint in AVCTL-I basketball. 

Derby’s hopes of a road win at Newton teetered near the start of the fourth quarter, witnessing a 21-point lead shrink to just one. 

Newton, who had won four-straight against coach Brett Flory’s crew, rallied behind a raucous home crowd as it hoped to make it five. 

The Panthers held off the Railers’ push, outscoring them 23-8 over the final six-plus minutes. Tre Washington scored a team-high 18 points, including eight points over the final five minutes of their 75-59 win. 

“It was a matter of reestablishing focus,” Flory said. “… Guys stepped up and made plays when they needed to. We need to do a better job of putting people away when we have the chance to and the guys know that.”

Its 52-43 lead at the start of the fourth quarter fell to one as Widly Nocenti hit two free throws with 6:25 remaining. 

The Railers were temporarily silenced as Jacob Karsak gave Derby a much-needed basket, pushing its lead to 55-51 with 6:18 left.

“It was the shot of the game,” Flory said. “We had been stuck at that score for a long time and they were one possession away from taking the lead or tying it.” 

Newton carved its way out of a massive hole, utilizing a pressure defense much like Derby’s. Looking to take its first lead of the game, its defense was more than vulnerable inside the paint.  

Derby made all 13 of its free-throw attempts over that stretch and were also aided by a Jameer Clemons triple that kept its lead in double digits. 

DERBY: 17 21 13 24— 75 

NEWTON: 13 8 22 16— 59 

PANTHERS: Washington 18, Bonner 11, Ray 9, Karsak 8, J. Clemons 7, L. Clemons 7, Parke 6,  Thomas 5, Araujo 4. 

RAILERS: K. Sauceda 18, Ray 12, Krogmeier 9, Brackeen 8, R. Sauceda 4, Mills 2, Edwards 2, Nocenti 2.