Panthers’ seniors provide spark on, off bench

Sophia DiGregorio

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Most coaches would gamble to have a team like Derby.

During the practices leading up to the state tournament coach Jodie Karsak reminded the players of the roles they each play for the team on and off the court.

This small reminder came written on a poker chip.

But some of the players fill their roles each day in a different way than an onlooker might expect.

In Derby’s 60-27 win over Shawnee Mission Northwest to advance to the Class 6A semifinal at 6:30 p.m. Friday, the bench was one of many factors that played a part in the win.

Seniors Allison and Erin Kooser, and Kaylan Cook haven’t gotten a lot of minutes on the court this season, but they are still key components.

“Instead of worrying about other things we like to focus on the game and supporting our team rather than being selfish… and we think about the others that are and supporting them and taking the focus off ourselves,” Allison Kooser said.

The seniors don’t stress about getting time on the court because they trust the Panther coaching staff and are confident in their ability to do their job.

That trust and unwavering support allowed the seniors some minutes Thursday.

These minutes included some season highs and firsts.

Cook scored 4 out of the 6 points she has scored this season.

“All three of them played solid… all game they were big-time energy. Totally locked on from start to finish,” Karsak said.

And the Panthers aren’t finished yet.