It could have been a never-in-doubt win for the Newton Railers in Saturday’s Tournament of Champions fifth-place game.
The Derby Panthers had other ideas.
After at one point trailing 37-20, the Panthers outscored the Railers 29-18 in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer with seven seconds left by Derby senior Clayton Hood tied the game at 69-69.
Newton led 21-5 at the end of the first quarter, and while the Railers ended up winning in overtime 81-74, the Panthers put up a fight.
“Derby, they’re relentless with that press,” Newton head coach Andy Preston said afterward. “That’s one thing with coach Flory that those guys know. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They never throw in the towel.”
Part of the reason Derby got back into it was the way Newton started to play.
“We got careless with the ball, we really started kind of reverted back to playing selfish, not playing smart and just forcing, taking quick shots,” Preston said.
Derby junior Tre Washington was another reason the Panthers made a game of it. He had a team-high 28 points Saturday, bested only by Newton junior Ty Berry, who had 35 points and 11 rebounds, both of which were game-highs for the Railers.
Panther junior Ladell Clemons also had a good game, with 15 points. Hood finished with 14 points.
For the Railers, senior Damarius Peterson had 19 points and nine rebounds. Junior Alex Krogeimer had 15 points.
“You’ve got to give them credit that they got back in the game,” Preston said.
Despite some hung heads, finger-pointing, and generally feeling like the team had lost the game, Preston said the team sat down and talked about how the adversity was good for the team, especially when it was still possible to win the game despite having allowed Derby to come back.
“I thought we really did a good job of getting back, being patient, getting in the half court, getting the ball inside and playing with Damarius first,” Preston said.
The names above all jump out on a sheet of statistics from the game, but they were far from the only contributors to it. Asked who made more of an impact on it for Newton than maybe the stats would indicate, Preston immediately said senior Jamieson Jones.
“Jamieson Jones was a hero in his role today,” Preston said. “I think Jamieson had big-time rebounds, had some big-time assists, high-lows, just really playing with a lot of poise, and just making plays that are unscripted. (Jamieson) just, he’s an unselfish player, he doesn’t get a lot of credit, not a lot of love, he doesn’t score a lot of points, but without him today that game’s not even close, we get blown out in overtime. So I think he was huge.”
Another was junior Jaheem Ray.
“He came in, sparked us off the bench and hit some big free throws late,” Preston said. “That’s a kid that hasn’t played this year, so I’m really proud of those guys.”
Final Tournament of Champions placings:
1. Bishop Carroll
2. Junction City
3. Shawnee Mission South
4. Dodge City
8. Wichita North