Derby finished the Dodge City Tournament of Champions with a fourth-place finish after a 65-59 loss to Junction City on Jan. 21.
The Panthers shot 21 percent in the first half, and the Blue Jays dominated the opening 16 minutes to build a 32-18 lead at halftime, which was the largest lead of the game. Derby improved in the second half and scored 24 points in the fourth quarter, but the deficit was too great to overcome.
“In the first half, we labored to score, missed layups and didn’t guard well,” head coach Brett Flory said. “We did a lot better in the second half but never could get over the hump. We just didn’t perform well in the first half to beat a team that is physical and athletic.”
Kaeson Fisher-Brown led Derby with 18 points, but the Panthers only shot 35 percent from the floor in the ballgame. Junction City played consistent ball throughout the game and shot a whopping 63 percent from the floor, going seven for 10 from three-point range. The Panthers could not capitalize off turnovers, with only 13 points on 20 Blue Jay turnovers.
Kaden Franklin was named to the all-tournament team with a pair of double-digit games, including a double-double against Maize South in the semifinal. Franklin was the rebound leader on the weekend, but the Panthers were out-rebounded in all three games.
Looking ahead to the end of the season, Flory knows his squad is going to have to embrace the challenge to be more physical against opponents.
“When you play good teams in midseason tournaments, they are going to expose your weaknesses,” Flory said. “We just need to be as physically tough and hard-nosed as we can be to learn how to beat teams that try to impose a physical game. Thankfully, there is enough season left to work on it.”
JUNCTION CITY 15 17 13 20 - 65
DERBY 11 7 17 24 - 59
BLUE JAYS: Baker, 18; Austin, 15; Turner, 12; Boganowski, 10; Butler-Lawson, 6; Jones, 2; Autry, 2.
PANTHERS: Fisher-Brown, 18; Metzger, 15; Franklin, 14; Ulwelling, 8; Brown, 4.
Panthers drop semi-final against familiar foe
Six might have been the unlucky number for Derby in the 73-63 loss to Maize South in the semifinal of the Dodge City Tournament of Champions on Jan. 20.
A pair of 6-0 runs early in the first quarter gave the Mavericks a 12-3 lead. Maize South held a wire-to-wire advantage as Derby only pulled within six points once throughout the game.
Jack Ulwelling led the Panthers with 14 points and was one of four players to finish in double digits. The Mavericks kept pace with Derby all game long and shot 50 percent in the game.
Isaiah Atwater scored 17 points in the first half and ended with 19 on the night. Atwater, Mickael Kates and Troy Homan combined for 52 points for the Mavericks.
Despite going 9-23 from the floor, the Panthers managed to trail 39-30 at halftime after a hot end to the half. Unfortunately for Derby, Maize South had an answer for nearly every Panther bucket throughout the game.
The Panthers continued to fight back and pulled within five for the first and only time with a three-pointer by Dallas Metzger to make it 59-54 early in the fourth quarter. It was all Maize South from that point on featuring a quick 10-0 Maverick run with 2:50 remaining.
Derby is 0-2 against Maize South this season and will have a third matchup with the Mavericks on the road on Feb. 17.
DERBY 7 23 19 14 - 63
MAIZE S. 15 24 16 18 - 73
PANTHERS: Ulwelling, 14; Fisher-Brown, 12; Franklin, 12; Metzger, 10; Chadwick, 6; Brown, 5; Anderson, 4.
MAVERICKS: Atwater, 19; Kates, 17; Homan, 16; Askren, 9; Steinhoff, 6; Felton, 4; Maze, 2.
Derby outlasts Dodge City in opening round
Ulwelling led Derby with a 14-point night to escape an upset bid by Dodge City in a 58-53 win in the first round of the Dodge City Tournament of Champions on Jan. 19.
With the score tied at 50-50 with just over two minutes to go, Ulwelling hit a three-pointer to give Derby the lead. Fisher-Brown hit a key mid-range jumper on the next possession to continue a quick 5-0 jab for the Panthers. The three-pointer was the shot Derby had been waiting for throughout the game, as the team shot 39 percent from the floor.
Derby capitalized off turnovers with 25 points on 22 Dodge City turnovers but had some turnover issues of their own, especially in the first half. The Panthers turned the ball over 10 times, and the Red Demons scored 14 points off the turnovers.
Dodge City kept pace with the Panthers for most of the game and entered halftime tied at 29-29. Jaiden Springer was dominant off the bench for Dodge City, leading all scorers with 17 points.
After the Panthers tied the game at 48-48 with 4:14 to go, the momentum started to swing in Derby’s favor, and the big shots started to fall. Derby shared the ball well throughout the game with 16 assists led by eight by Fisher-Brown. The senior finished with eight points, but the attention he got offensively helped his teammates get open. Ulwelling, Mason Anderson and Metzger all finished in double digits.
DERBY 17 12 11 18 - 58
DODGE CITY 17 12 14 10 - 53
PANTHERS: Ulwelling, 14; Metzger, 12; Anderson, 12; Fisher-Brown, 8; Franklin, 7; Chadwick, 3; Arnett, 2.
RED DEMONS: Springer, 17; Unzueta, 10; Taylor, 9; Schulte, 7; Buller, 3; Perez, 3; Okoro, 2; Brito, 2.