Sometimes the signs that hang on the baseline walls of high school gymnasiums touting a school’s athletic accomplishments can cast a little weight on the athletes below.
Derby senior Kenzie Young knew Friday that significant time had passed since the Panthers advanced to a state girls basketball tournament.
“2002,” Young said, looking upward to confirm her words. “It’s been a long time.”
Young’s declaration came from the middle of a celebratory scene. Her three-point shooting and defense helped Derby defeat Manhattan 37-25 for a Class 6A sub-state championship.
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Young scored a game-high 13 points and senior backcourt mate Katie Hartman added 10 to propel the Panthers to the 6A quarterfinals, which will be played Wednesday at Koch Arena.
Derby (19-3), which limited Southeast to 23 points in its sub-state opener, handcuffed a Manhattan team that scored 68 in its victory over Topeka High on Wednesday. Manhattan (14-8) made 9 of 41 shots from the field and endured two scoring droughts that lasted more than seven minutes.
“We did our job on defense,” said Hartman, whose eight first-half points included a buzzer beater in the lane at the end of the first quarter. “We knew they were drivers and they had a couple guards who were really fast. We did a good job staying quick on our feet.”
Derby forced 16 turnovers and repeatedly limited Manhattan’s second-chance scoring opportunities. The Panthers’ stinginess was necessary, as they shot just 33 percent.
“We really focused on our defense in our last practice on not getting caught up in their screens,” Young said. “That really helped. Twenty-five points, that’s great.”
Young’s third and final three-pointer pushed Derby’s lead to 31-20 with 4:04 remaining. Manhattan, which got 12 points from senior Maddie Mittie, never got within single digits the rest of the way.
Young and Hartman started Derby’s celebration with an awkward hug, as Hartman secured the Panthers’ trophy with one hand. Soon, their teammates, which included three classmates and a pair of freshman starters in Tor’e Alford and Kennedy Brown, joined in.
“I think we came through for our team,” Hartman said of her and Young’s performances. “But it definitely took all of us to win.”
Manhattan: McAtee 9, Mittie 12, Wilson 2, Williams 2.
Derby: Young 13, Hartman 10, Alford 2, Holly Mills 2, Brown 7, Haley Mills 3.