DERBY — There haven’t been many basketball games played between the Garden City Buffaloes and Derby Panthers boys teams.
The schedule just doesn’t work out for the Class 6A schools to meet up.
So much of the time they’ve battled, it has been in the postseason, with the latest coming Saturday night in Derby for the sub-state championship for a berth in next Thursday’s state tournament at Koch Arena in Wichita.
On Derby’s home floor, the Panthers once again took control of the game early and gradually pulled away for a 63-38 victory over the Buffs to move on to the state tournament.
Entering as a decided underdog to the No. 6-ranked team in 6A (KBCA rankings), the Buffs didn't have the offensive firepower to stay up with the high-octane Panther offense, which came in averaging 71.6 points per game.
The Buffs saw their season end with a 13-9 record while Derby improved to 15-6.
"We had a stretch in there (first quarter) where we had a number of turnovers, and from there we never could get it back," said GCHS coach Jacy Holloway. "Offensively, we just didn't have enough to keep up with them."
Jayden Crook had one of his best offensive outings in his final game with 17 points, including 5 of 9 3-pointers. He was the lone Buff in double figures.
"Jayden had a good game, and we got him some good looks from outside and he knocked them down," Holloway said of Crook. "But everytime he (Crook) made a three, Derby came down and answered with a score. We've gotta be more aware of those situations and get some stops."
Derby’s dynamic duo of Tyler Brown and Bryant Mocaby led the way with 20 and 14 points, respectively.
The Panthers held a narrow edge on the boards, 32-29, but the turnovers were a big factor, with the Buffs guilty of 22 miscues to just eight for the Panthers.
The last time the teams had met was in 2013 in the first round of the state tournament, with the Panthers claiming a win. And then there was the 2011 regular season game at the (old) Garden, with the Buffs winning 67-64 in overtime on a Cody Bernbeck buzzer-beater.
For the game, the Buffs hit a chilly 15 of 42 (35.7 percent) while the Panthers hit a credible 21-of-44 shots (47.7 percent).
The Buffs got off to a quick start, scoring the first five points of the game on a 17-footer by Carlos Acosta and a deep trey from Jayden Crook.
"We got off to a great start, and got some great looks with good kick-outs," Holloway said. "But just too many turnovers. They come at you in waves, and it was just too much."
But that would be it for the Buffs who didn’t score in the final 6:40 of the opening quarter.
"I felt like if we could keep the margin somewhere around 10 or less by halftime, that we might have an opportunity to rattle them," Holloway said. "But we were in foul trouble (three starters with two fouls each, and one reserve with two as well) and that caused us some rotation issues."
Meanwhile, the Panthers warmed up their offense, while also forcing the Buffs into five turnovers in that stretch to score 15 unanswered points and a 10-point lead at the end of the first break.
It was a rough and tumble style of play, with Derby using a fullcourt press and halfcourt traps to get the Buffs out of rhythm.
The second quarter was somewhat better for the Buffs but after cutting the lead to 21-14 on another 3-pointer by Crook, the Panthers finished out the half on a 9-1 run and a 30-15 margin at intermission.