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As the final seconds ticked away in their December loss to McPherson, Derby’s players walked off the court with a good understanding of where they stood. 

It was a mix of trying to massage a young, but talented corps, against a perennial power. It also saw numerous spots where an inch or two, whether it be a missed rebound, shot or a turnover, would have made a major difference.

The Lady Panthers have now won three-straight games since Dec. 13 and are continuing to refine what is easily the deepest roster of coach Jodie Karsak’s tenure. 

 Dec. 10 at Ark City  81-21, W
 Dec. 13 vs McPherson 40-49, L
 Dec. 14 vs. KMC  46-35, W
 Dec. 17 at Maize  50-42, W
 Dec. 20 vs. Newton  73-11, W
 Jan. 6 vs. Salina Central 
 Jan. 14 at Campus 
 Jan. 17 vs. Andover 

Christmas Break was fruitful for the Derby coach and company. First came the addition of Wichita Heights transfer Derryana Cobbins, who became eligible to play once the first semester closed. Once their second practice began over break, Karsak said the intensity of their practices skyrocketed. 

“We probably had the best week of practices since I’ve been here,” she said. “… the level of play at practice has been surreal, a lot of fun and I haven’t had to get after them to pick up the pace or anything. It’s been so competitive.”

With other options always present, Karsak said the depth has helped her players realize the importance of the pressure they apply defensively. 

“I told them, ‘you guys can go 90 to nothing,’” she said of her player’s effort on the floor. They can get a sub, get a rest and know the player who will come in for them will do the same… our depth and being able to play hard for an entire game is really going to help us out too.”

January will give Derby plenty of chances to gauge its progress. Home dates against Salina Central and Andover are coming on Jan. 6 and 17, respectively. Later this month, Derby will travel to Lawrence Free State to player in the Glacier’s Edge Invitational. The host school will be participating as well as Lawrence and defending state runner-up Topeka.