As Derby’s Grant Adler went to ground, South’s win seemed all but secured.
Adler grabbed a loose ball and was soon covered. Titan center Remy Lemovou collapsed on top of him and reached in for a chance at a jump ball call. His momentum carried him over Adler, and the two started shoving.
After the whistles stopped blowing and the fans calmed their shouts, South’s Keenan Miller was up to the line for six technical free throws. He hit them all and widened the gap even further in the Titans’ eventual 80-68 victory Friday in the AV-CTL/GWAL Challenge at Koch Arena.
Derby coach Brett Flory was extremely animated after Adler was given the first technical foul, so much that he was given one, too. He apologized for that after the game.
“I handled myself very poorly,” Flory said. “It’s one of those times when you feel like you’re trying to stand up for your team. It was a competitive game. There was a lot of talk going on, on the court. But it was not a situation where I handled myself well for our team, and I regret that.”
Lemovou said he didn’t “really remember” what happened on the ground but cited how crucial those six free throws were down the stretch.
“I was just trying to make everything calm down after the missed shot,” Lemovou said. “That was a big lead with those free throws. That was our best free throw shooter, and we said, ‘Man, take us where you can.’ ”
The Panthers started to climb out of the self-dug hole late, going on a 22-5 run to close the game with Bryant Mocaby leading the charge. But it wasn’t enough. Lemovou and Miller were dominant inside. They accounted for a plethora of second-chance opportunities on the offensive end, which led to easy buckets and several knock-down threes on the outside.
Knowing South had scored fewer than 50 points in three of its past four games, Flory said his team was going to allow South the open looks outside, and if the Titans hit them, they deserve to win.
South coach Chuck Gunter said he was proud of his team’s effort. South improved to 5-4.
“We needed this,” Gunter said. “We’ve been kinda up and down, trying to get our chemistry right, and I think this win shows us we have what it takes if we play together.”
For Derby, it’s back to the drawing board.
“I’m obviously not getting the buttons right with this group yet,” Flory said. “We have our moments where we’re a pretty good team, but it’s still a struggle, and as a coach, I gotta get it figured out.”