With 10 seconds left in the first half, Derby’s Tor’e Alford called her shot.
Childhood friend Kennedy Brown ran to the top of the key for a high ball screen, and Alford waved her and the rest of her teammates off to the baseline. She was going to take her defender on one-on-one.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m about to do this. I don’t even care,’ ” Alford said. “I go do a little shimmy-shimmy there and I just shoot it.”
And it goes in.
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Derby went on to beat South 60-41 in the AV-CTL/GWAL Challenge on Saturday night at Koch Arena for the Titans’ first loss since the Class 6A playoffs last season.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m LaMelo Ball or (Steph) Curry or somebody,” Alford said. “So tonight, I was just chillin’.”
Alford scored 11 straight points to close the first quarter, and by half her 20 point had nearly doubled South’s total. Brown said she has never seen her friend play as confidently and as freely as Alford did Saturday night in Koch Arena.
“We were all jacked,” Brown said. “That was crazy. I don’t know what her deal was.”
Alford’s point total was a career-high and it helped the Panthers to a performance coach Jodie Karsak found little fault in.
“Things are starting to click consistently for us,” Karsak said. “Defensively, we’re still doing our thing, so to only hold them to 11 points (in the first half), we’re really just buying into everything.”
Alford said the team was “most hyped” for the opportunity to knock off South, the top-ranked team in Class 6A. The last time the teams met was in Alford’s freshman season.
Karsak said in that game, it didn’t seem Alford was “in the game.”
“We kinda teased her a little bit last time,” Karsak said. “And we were just teasing her, ‘I wonder what they’re gonna say after tonight.’ And they’re saying some really great things.”
Brown, one of the most-sought recruits in the Wichita area, was her usual self in the low post protecting the rim and scoring with ease at times.
Sydney Nilles, Madi Young, Aliyah Myers and freshman Jaidyn Schomp all showed moments of excellent play.
“They can’t just guard Kennedy anymore,” Karsak said. “And that showed at the end. They started playing her one-on-one, and she started getting easy buckets.”
Karsak said though she anticipates her team to win each game, she did not expect Saturday’s margin.
“We have the pieces to come in and compete any ballgame, truly,” Karsak said. “I don’t say that with any team I have, but with these guys, I really believe we could beat anybody.”