Derby junior Josh Mark tried to slip away down the Maize High corridor and toward his team’s bus before his coach, Brett Flory, summoned him back to the area outside the Panthers’ locker room Tuesday night.
Flory said Mark is the quiet type, possibly “the only high school kid without a twitter account.”
The setting was perfect for a guy who prefers to let his actions speak louder than words. In a basketball battle with Maize that lasted four quarters and eight extra minutes, Mark made the biggest noise with a steal and layup with 11 seconds remaining that boosted Derby to an 82-78 double-overtime victory over Maize.
Jeremy Dunham scored 26 points and Keaton Steadman added 21 for Derby, which improved to 11-5 and 7-1 in Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail Division I. The Panthers took a half-game lead over Maize (12-3, 6-1) by avenging a 25-point December loss to the Eagles.
If making amends for that defeat was central to Derby’s thinking Tuesday, Mark’s big play followed a similar parallel. Seconds earlier, Maize’s Jacob Horsch picked off Mark’s errant pass with the score tied at 78, putting the Panthers’ victory hopes in peril.
“I committed a turnover and knew I sort of had to redeem myself,” Mark said. “I just went back, shook it off and played defense.”
Mark turned Derby’s fortunes by jumping in front of a cross-court pass and taking it in uncontested for an 80-78 lead. In its hurry to try to force a third overtime or possibly win the game, Maize turned it over again and Derby sophomore Trevor Hall sealed the victory with two free throws with four seconds remaining.
“This is kind of becoming old hat,” Flory said, referring to Derby’s two-overtime victory over Blue Valley West and overtime defeat to Wichita North in last month’s McPherson Invitational. “Some of the mistakes we made can lose you the game, but mistakes are going to happen with high school kids.
“It’s just a matter of who can make the next play. Josh and many others on our team have come a long way in terms of mental toughness.”
Derby’s third consecutive victory took the concept to extremes. After building a 33-22 halftime lead with seven three-pointers and 61-percent field-goal shooting, the Panthers withstood a steady second-half charge from Maize, led by senior Aaron Shaw.
“We went through a period from the four-minute mark in the second quarter to halftime where we just didn’t have any energy,” Maize coach Chris Davis said. “We told the kids there weren’t any 11-point possessions. We were going to have to get back in the game one stop and one possession at a time.”
Shaw scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half. None was bigger than his basket in the lane off an inbounds lob from Connor Lungwitz with no time left in regulation that tied the score at 62.
While Shaw fouled out midway through the first overtime, there was no shortage of players from both teams willing to step up and be the hero. Toward the end of the first extra period, Derby held the ball for almost 45 seconds before Steadman connected on his sixth three with eight seconds remaining to put the Panthers up 71-69.
Maize got the game to a second overtime, however, as Ky-Sean Johnson was fouled on a drive toward the basket and made two free throws to tie the score at 71.
Derby didn’t trail in the second overtime, but had to overcome two turnovers in the final 1:06 before Mark put the Panthers ahead for good.
Hall, who scored the game’s final points, finished with 12. Nyjee Wright added 10. Maize got 15 from Horsch and Kaven Jobe, and 13 from Johnson.
“We just had to keep attacking,” said Dunham, who scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and four in the overtimes. “We knew what we had to do to win because we’ve been in overtime games. We just had to keep fighting and not give up.”
Derby – Wright 10, Steadman 21, Conley 9, Dunham 26, Mark 4, Hall 12.
Maize – Horsch 15, Lungwitz 4, Wilcox 9, Jobe 15, Shaw 22, Johnson 13.