May 28, 2024

Derby ends Garden City’s season

Derby, KS-This Derby team was on a mission.

Back on Feb. 9, the Panthers blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead to Newton and watched the Railers close the game on a 20-4 run. It was Derby’s only home loss all year.

There was no such letdown on Saturday night.

Tyler Brown scored 20 points, Northern Kentucky signee Bryant Mocaby added 14, and No. 6 Derby punched their ticket to the 6A state tournament with a 63-38 victory over Garden City in the sub state finals at Panthers Gymnasium.

“Derby is a really good team,” Buffaloes’ Coach Jacy Holloway said. “They shoot the ball so well.”

Their shooting was impressive. But it was their constant pressure on the other end that had the Buffaloes reeling. Garden City turned it over a season-high 24 times, leading to one fast break after another.

“You can’t beat a team like that when you give them extra possessions,” Holloway said. “I thought we handled their full-court pressure pretty well. It was their half-court defense that sped us up.”

The Buffaloes were definitely in their element the first 90 seconds. Carlos Acosta hit a jumper from the foul line, and Jayden Crook nailed a 3-pointer, giving Garden City (13-9, 6-2) a 5-0 edge.

However, the final 30:30 belonged to the Panthers.

Clayton Hood hit a layup, Mocaby drained two free throws, Grant Adler finished at the basket, and Brown hit a 3, all part of a 16-0 surge that put Derby up 16-5, one minute into the second.

“Derby took control early,” Holloway said. “And we made some careless decisions in the half court.”

Garden City turned it over seven times in the first quarter and added four more in the second. And it wasn’t until Garrett Doll hit a floater in the lane that the Buffaloes finally ended a 10:15 scoring drought.

“We couldn’t get any rhythm going in the first half,” Holloway said.

After falling down by as many as 11 in the second period, Crook breathed air into the Buffalo cause when he dropped in a long ball to cut the deficit to seven, 21-14 with 3:10 left in the half. But it was the closest Garden City got the rest of the night. Derby (15-6, 9-2) responded valiantly. Brown hit a 3, and the Panthers closed the half on a 9-1 run to take a 30-15 advantage into the locker room.

“We threw some pretty bad passes in the half court,” Holloway said. “We were throwing them at other guys’ feet.”

If the first-half blitz staggered the Buffaloes, Derby’s third-quarter onslaught finished them.

Adler canned a wide-open trey from the top, Mocaby splashed one home from the wing, and Brown beat two Buffaloes off the dribble, spearheading a 10-0 run that put the Panthers up 42-20 with 4:23 to go in the quarter. Derby led by as many as 24 in the period.

“Give Derby a lot of credit because they denied us the entire game,” Holloway said.

Adler chipped in seven points and five rebounds for the Panthers, who advanced to the state tournament for the third time under Brett Flory.

Crook had an incredible shooting game for Garden City, nailing 5-of-9 3’s, his second most in a game this season. Elliott added six points and seven rebounds for a team that is still searching for their first six-game winning streak in 17 years.