Feb. 4 Derby Lady Panther basketball vs. Maize (Sydney Nilles)

What happens after losing arguably the most impactful senior class in program history?

While the season is still four-plus months away, it’s a challenge worth accepting for coach Jodie Karsak and company.

The Lady Panther coach said she has seen her new roster gel, taking advantage of its annual summer team camp and traveling to Pittsburg State for its joint team camp and tournament. The varsity went 7-1 at the camp, losing its only game to Rock Bridge HS from Columbia, Mo.

“We are a whole different team now,” Karsak said. “I wasn’t really sure how we’d gel [at PSU] together, but they really enjoyed playing together and are there for each other.”

The graduation of its six seniors will take away almost 64 percent of its scoring, but Karsak is eager to see which freshmen or returning sophomores, juniors and seniors will step into those holes.

“I’ve wanted to get back to the basics, fundamentals and what it takes day in and day out,” Karsak said. “Especially with the freshmen and new kids coming into the program, we wanted them to get a really big taste of what Lady Panther basketball is about.”

One of the biggest candidates is senior-to-be Sydney Nilles. She recently announced her commitment to Newman University for basketball and will be a four-year starter for Karsak’s program.

With her commitment finished, Karsak said it has brought new energy to Nilles’ game.

“It is like all the pressure is off of her,” Karsak said. “I’m excited for everyone to see what she’s capable of. It’s just not scoring though, because she’s a stat-book filler.”

Having both started at different times as freshmen and sophomores, Kaitlyn Kennedy and Jaidyn Schomp will be instrumental in further developing the core of Derby’s roster.

Schomp, who is a stretch forward at 6-foot-2, has already received her first two college offers from Missouri Western and UT-Rio Grande Valley. The junior and her summer team recently finished up a trip to Dallas, Texas, where they took first in the consolation bracket.

“She’s having a great summer and I’m so excited for her,” Karsak said of Schomp.

Praised for her physical play at guard, Kennedy will be looked upon as a key cog in Derby’s defense. She’ll pair with returning guard Heather Mills to give it depth along the perimeter.

Who are some of the new faces that’ll work their way into the program in 2019-20?

Three prime possibilities are sophomore transfer Tatum Boettjer (Circle) and freshmen Maryn Archer and Addy Brown.

Boettjer and Brown are summer teammates for PBR Team Lex Nation and will bring additional height to Derby’s roster at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-1, respectively.

Brown was selected to participate in the USA Basketball U16 team trials in Colorado Springs, Colo., in May. After moving to Derby Middle School a year ago, Archer was one of 43 players selected to the Blue Star 30 Camp in Wilmington, Del. She was also a Pool All-Star at the U.S. Junior Nationals Great Plains Challenge in Overland Park, Kan.

For a look at who these players are sharing the court with this summer, roster and team names are included for the players received by the time of publication.


Jaidyn Schomp, Derby

Emma Ruddle, McPherson

Maddie Wiltse, Otios

Emily Ryan, Central Plains

Jae’Mya Lyons, Topeka

Kade Hackerott, Goddard

Elise Kaiser, Hesston

Kadyn Cobb, Salina Central


Sydney Nilles, Derby

Katie Wagner, Maize South

Taylor Jameson, Wichita Heights

Machia Mullens, Liberal

Faith Paramore, Haven

Katie Horyna, Liberal

Gabbie Posch, Hutchinson

Chloe Carter, Topeka Seaman


Maryn Archer, Derby

Brooklyn Jones, Colby

Hampton Williams, Salina Central

Macy Smith, Topeka Hayden

Emma Kruger, Washburn Rural

Karly McCord, Fairbury (Neb.)

Aubrie Kierscht, Salina Central

Emma Yungeberg, Valley Heights


Addy Brown, Derby

Tatum Boettjer, Derby

Jerzie Bryant, Midloathian, Texas

Tristen Taylor, Duncanville, Texas

Jenna Kendall, Dallas, Texas

Taylor Haggan, Murphy, Texas

Kylie Marshall, Mansfield, Texas

Rylee Verduin, Dallas, Texas

Micah Vaughn, Cedar Hill, Texas