Derr-ific: 2017 Warwick grad leads KU in scoring

By on January 3, 2018
Kutztown University freshman Rylee Derr, a 2017 Warwick grad, is averaging a team-leading 11.8 points per game through the Lady Bears’ first 11 contests.  Photos courtesy of Kutztown University

Kutztown University freshman Rylee Derr, a 2017 Warwick grad, is averaging a team-leading 11.8 points per game through the Lady Bears’ first 11 contests. Photos courtesy of Kutztown University

On her way to becoming the Warwick girls’ second all-time leading scorer, Rylee Derr scored 136 total three-pointers.

Twice, the 2017 grad scored as many as six in a single game, both in her junior campaign — against Cocalico and Cedar Crest.

It took her just seven games into her collegiate career at Kutztown University to equal that feat.

Scoring six treys and a team-high 20 points, Derr led the Lady Bears to a 73-69 win over previously-unbeaten Jefferson on Nov. 29.

“From that first shot (in the opening quarter), I knew I was on,” Derr said.

The former Lady Warrior star, in fact, has been on more often than not this season. As a freshman, she has a team-leading 11.8 ppg for a Kutztown team that is 7-4 overall (2-3 PSAC).

Considering Derr’s goal entering the season was just to get on the floor and make an impact in her rookie campaign, she is doing that and more.

“Freshmen have to start from the bottom and work their way up,” Derr said. “That’s pretty much every college. You just have to show them that you want to be there and that you’re serious about the game. I’m very serious. We’re a really young team this year. We have about six freshmen, so I really had to work for my spot on the team.”

Two other freshmen, like Derr, hail from the L-L League in Ephrata’s Caroline Stauffer and Northern Lebanon’s Zoe Zerman. The Lady Bears also have six sophomores on the roster, including redshirt Jenna Widdicombe, a Pope John Paul II grad.

So although Derr describes this year as a “learning time,” she is confident that they have a very real chance to be playing in the post-season.

“We’re definitely not satisfied with where we’re at,” Derr said. “There’s always improvement that needs to be done and we just try to get better every day when we come to practice … We’re definitely striving for the playoffs. That’s always a goal for us. We definitely think we can make it. I think we’re getting better every game.”

Derr certainly worked hard in the off-season to get better. She believes that preparation, in addition being surrounded by impressive talent on the KU roster, has contributed to her strong start in college.

“Everyone is good in college,” said Derr, who has started all 11 of the Lady Bears’ games. “The L-L League is so different from college, especially the PSAC … In pre-season and over the summer, I’ve really worked on my shot, getting in the gym every day to shoot up 100 or 200 shots. And I’ve worked with the coaches and just (having) a quicker release has definitely been my game.”

Listed as a 5-foot-10 guard/forward on the KU roster, Derr said she’s definitely playing a guard spot right now, looking first to shoot from the outside.

It wasn’t that way her first two years at Warwick, when she played more of a big-person role as the tallest player on the squad. Realizing that she wouldn’t be a big in college, however, Derr developed her shooting skills as a junior and senior.

“If I’m not shooting great, then I will try to take it in to get points that way,” Derr said. “But overall, it’s just shooting pretty much.”

Her quick release was on display Nov. 11 when she dropped in 19 points in a win against Wheeling Jesuit. Just over two weeks later, Derr set a new season-high with her 20 points against Jefferson.

“The first time we had the ball, I’m pretty sure it was about to be a shot (clock) violation, so I just kinda chucked it up and it went in,” Derr recalled.

Finishing the game 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, Derr buried two treys during an 11-0 second-half run, helping Kutztown erase a 47-44 deficit and grab a 55-47 lead with 9:16 left in the game.

“The coaches knew I was on, so every play, they just tried to get me an open shot or something,” said Derr, who will accompany the Lady Bears into a game at Millersville University Jan. 13. “When I’m on like that, I just want the ball so I can shoot it.”

Derr is also doing her part on the boards, pulling down 4.0 rebounds per game, placing her second on the team behind Keifonna Ferguson (6.9).

Her athleticism was evident on the volleyball court at Warwick too, where she earned All-State honors in her senior year while helping the Lady Warriors win their first-ever Section One and L-L crowns.

Asked if she misses not playing volleyball, Derr said, “I do, yeah. My senior year was definitely the best year we’ve had in volleyball and I love the sport, but basketball is definitely my number one.”

Kutztown University is glad for that.

“My biggest goal was just to get on the floor, let them know I’m not kidding around and that I want to play,” Derr said. “I just wanted to play.”



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