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The win/loss column is a source of pride for Derby boys’ basketball and rightfully so. 

Undefeated through five games, the Panthers are in the process of boosting their name back among the best in AVCTL-I and Class 6A. Dating back to Feb. 21 of last year, they’ve now won eight of their last nine contests.

The struggles prior to that date were somewhat to be expected with such a young roster. However, with experience comes boosted expectation and Derby has delivered.

Five games also gave coach Brett Flory and staff plenty to draw up for a week of practices during Christmas break.

“Our guys knew we needed time to work on us and not have to worry about anything other then that,” he said. “It was good, but even after a few practices, they’re kind of sick of going against each other and want to get back out there and play [our schedule].”

Derby has thrown a large cast at its opponents thus far, playing as many as 12-14 players. The depth allowed it to utilize its traditional havoc defense while also having legs through the fourth quarter. 

The additional seven practices over break offered Flory’s squad time to refine and also add to its offensive profile.

“We wanted some semblance of some offensive execution,” he said. “Even for the stuff we had worked on, we have to [practice] it so quickly that we’re not great at it… We added a few more things to the offensive end too, so it’s been huge.” 

The maturation and performance of Derby’s senior class has also been critical. 

Guard Tre Washington scored a game-high 23 points in its win over McPherson, while classmate Nick Bonner tallied the final eight points in a narrow road win at Maize. 

Washington also is Derby’s leading scorer at 12.8 points per game.

“We put some pressure on him before the year started and told him this team was going to go the way he goes,” Flory said. “He’s such a strong personality, he’s the point guard and he has the ball in his hands so much… He’s been by far the best [this season] in his four years.”

With five other players averaging five to 10 points per contest, it offers a clearer picture of what Flory expected from this team.

“The strength of our group is balance and while we don’t have a superstar in the mix, there are five guys on the court that are a threat,” he said. “Unselfishness is huge when you have that kind of a team because guys have to buy into ball movement, taking good shots and not worrying about their own stats.”

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