Derby sophomore post Kennedy Brown didn’t get to the free-throw line in the first half Friday night when the Panthers missed all seven of their attempts.
But she made sure to do her part once she got there, hitting 3 of 4 in the second half, including two that clinched a 39-34 AV-CTL I victory over Newton.
Before Brown went to the line for a one-and-one with 6.4 seconds to play and the Panthers clinging to a 37-34 lead, Derby (12-4, 6-3) had made 3 of 16 tries.
Going 5 of 18 was mind-boggling, Brown said.
“I don’t know what was up with that,” she said. “We don’t normally miss that many. That’s just how it went this game.”
The importance of those attempts was not lost on Brown.
“I knew I had to make them,” she said. “It was a three-point game, and I knew I couldn’t let (Newton) come down and hit a three, so I had to put them in.”
When Derby missed, many of the shots bounced up and off. But Brown’s pressure shots were straight through.
“Those felt good,” she said. “I just had to clear my head and put them in, didn’t have to think about it too much.”
Coach Jodie Karsak was in disbelief over the Panthers’ free-throw futility.
“I don’t know,’ she said. “Maybe we need a magic pill or something.”
Fortunately for Derby, a 14-point second quarter – entirely on field goals – helped the Panthers to an 18-12 halftime lead, but Karsak said making some free throws would have made the lead much stronger.
“We might shoot a few free throws in (the next) practice,” she said with a chuckle.
But when Newton (13-3, 6-2) was forced to foul, Karsak said, she was confident in Brown.
“In the final (seconds), we said they’re going to foul, being strong with the ball,” she said. “I said, ‘OK, after Kennedy makes these two’ – I have confidence in these kids to shoot them. I don’t know what was the deal (Friday night).
“I don’t know. We’ve got to get better at free throws.”
Perhaps hitting those two key free throws might buy Brown a break or two at practice from Karsak.
“We always have to make all the free throws we miss,” Brown said. “We make them in practice, and if we don’t make them, we run for them.”
The Panthers began with nine first-quarter turnovers.
“We were just a little rushed when we came out,” Brown said. “We didn’t play our game. But once we kind of settled in, we played our game, and it kind of worked for us.”
NEWTON: Bacon 10, Kernal 7, Berry 5, Schmidt 5, Akers 4, Antonowich 3.
DERBY: Brown 12, Alford 8, Young 8, Winter 7, Myers 4.