It was pointed out to Derby coach Brett Flory, at some point in the last two days, that in 16 tries his school had never made it past the semifinals of the Dodge City Tournament of Champions.
“That’s great,” Flory replied. “But I’m in my fourth season. I don’t really care about the past.”
Neither do his players. Derby battled to a 60-53 overtime victory over host Dodge City on Friday to advance to Saturday night’s final against Central Plains.
The Panthers did it behind another big night from 6-foot-2 senior guard/forward James Conley, who scored 26 points to go with eight rebounds and three steals. Conley scored 20 points in Derby’s win over Wichita North on Thursday.
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“We won with defense, we won with getting stops when we needed to,” Conley said. “Everybody did something to contribute.”
Tied 50-50 at the end of regulation, Dodge City (5-5) took a 53-50 lead with 3:02 left in overtime before Derby (8-3) reeled off a 10-0 run to close things out.
The run was triggered by back-to-back turnovers by Dodge City’s leading scorer, Bryce Unruh, that led to baskets by Conley and Nyjee Wright for a 54-53 lead.
“We started to go after (Unruh),” Wright said. “We turned the pressure up at the right time.”
Wright added 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including three three-pointers.
Central Plains 54, SM South 38 — Trailing 21-16 in the second quarter, Central Plains’ Braedan Crites fouled Shawnee Mission South’s C.J. Hill on a layup that Hill made.
Hill approached Crites, began talking, and when Crites tried to walk away, Hill feigned contact and jumped backward like he’d been shoved by Crites. The officials bought it, gave Crites a technical foul and gave the Class 2A Oilers the spark they needed to topple a Class 6A foe in the tournament semifinals.
“That’s not how you play basketball,” said Central Plains guard Michael Ryan, who led all scorers with 23 points. “I think it made us angry when (Hill) did it.”
Layne Bieberle added 17 points for Central Plains (9-1), which worked out a deal to play in this year’s tournament in 2011. Hill led the Raiders with 13 points.
“I was in the seventh grade when we found out we’d be playing here, and I’ve been thinking about this ever since,” Ryan said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Carroll 59, Junction City 49 — Carroll bounced back from a disappointing loss to Shawnee Mission South in Friday’s opener for the behind 13 points, seven rebounds and four steals from 6-foot-5 senior Connor Evans.
“We were still upset about last night’s loss,” Evans said, “but you’ve gotta move on, and you’ve gotta learn from it. We were a little more fired up today.”
Evans got the Golden Eagles going early with a steal and one-handed dunk for a 16-10 lead as time ran out in the first quarter. Carroll (7-4) saw its lead shrink to 40-39 with 6:32 left in the fourth quarter, but Ethan Lopez came off the bench to hit back-to-back three-pointers for a 46-41 lead.
Patrick Carney added 13 points for Carroll, all in the first half. Josh Bryan and Ricardo Erans led Junction City (3-9) with 13 points each. Carroll will play Newton on Saturday for fifth place.
“I was proud of how we hustled, proud of how we scrapped and fought for the win,” Carroll coach Lonnie Lollar said. “We’ve got a lot of things we need to improve on, but when we’re locked in defensively, I think we can guard anybody in the state.”
Newton 57, Wichita North 43 — Tevin Berry scored 14 points and Daniel Wagoner added 13 points and nine rebounds for Newton (4-5). Andrew Sanders led North (1-1) with 14 points.
North will play Junction City for seventh place on Saturday.
Derby: Nicholson 7, Wright 16, Steadman 3, Conley 26, Worley 2, Love 6.
Dodge City: McGroarty 11, Unruh 17, Reid 4, Nelson 3, Oldham 7, Williams 11.
Carroll: Iseman 3, Wilbert 6, Hornback 1, Carney 13, Lopez 6, Allen 4, Demel 2, Evans 13, Scharping 11.
Junction City: Hall 5, Bryan 13, Erans 13, Hand 8, Poole 6, Lueker 2, Terry 1, Magee 1.
North: Champion 11, Cotton 8, Sanders 14, Hatter 3, Vongsakda 3, Randleas 4.
Newton: J. Kingsley 5, R. Kingsley 8, Wagoner 13, Berry 14, Downey 10, Robinson 7.