After the high of watching Qua’Vez Humphreys crowned the 2020 Winter Homecoming King, the Blue Jays basketball team struggled late against Topeka West to fall 52-60 in the teams next to final appearance in Shenk Gymnasium during the regular season.
The team fired off the bench early hitting three 3-pointers straight to take the quick 9-2 lead in the first 2-minutes of play before defensive struggles started.
“I thought we did some good things early, we made some shots — Chris (Dixon) made some shots, Howard (Johnson) made some shots,” said coach Nick Perez after the game. “We had some good enthusiasm. But, the second part of the first quarter into the second quarter we just stopped playing defense and that's usually our go-to — our defense. Our defense is our offense. It was unfortunate but, I thought we play hard we just couldn't capitalize on when we got them to turn it over.”
The Blue Jays stayed on top of the visiting Chargers after the first quarter 18-12, the final time the team would lead when a buzzer sounded.
Topeka West opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run to tie the game before Darren Battiste dropped a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the home squad the edge again. Unfortunately, the Chargers responded with a trey on the opposite end to tie it up again .
Back-and-forth shooting and scoring continued throughout the frame before Topeka West took the lead and closed out the half on a 8-0 run to take the 24-32 lead into the break.
“Hats off to them because they shot about 80% in the first half,” Perez said. “It was ridiculous and we were trying to run them off the line but they still were just making shots. They did some different things, kind of made some adjustments at halftime. But man, they shot the crap out of it.
“I thought we did a good job of getting our hands up, they just they did some things that our guys were used to seeing — curling and stuff like that,” he added. “We had good looks, a couple of them rimmed out. We’ve got to understand that we can get in the paint — we just don't ever get in there and we’ve got to do that more.”
During the intermission, the 1970 Class 4A State Basketball team was introduced and honored. Members of the team present were treated to a private reception during the Lady Jays game and carried their Kansas State High Schools Activities Association trophy onto the court for the fans to see. While there, JCHS activities director Matt Westerhaus presented each of the members with a JCHS coin as a token of appreciation.
The second half belonged to the Chargers as they limited the Blue Jays to 10 points in the third quarter and 18 points in the final frame while adding 28 points in the two quarters.
Though the Charger offense was able to score, the Blue Jays rolled back to an old defense scheme that frustrated the trapped Chargers near mid-court.
“I thought it gave us an opportunity to get some (breaks) … when people take a quick shot and get a rebound,” Perez said. “That's exactly what you want, and we had our opportunities. It was just unfortunate that we couldn't capitalize on them. But I think that's our go to. I think, full court man's our go too and we got to do a better job of when we turn them over we've got to go score.”
With the loss the Blue Jays prepare for their next two matches — Topeka Seaman Tuesday and Emporia next Friday night during senior night.
“Seaman’s going to be good,” Perez said. “They’ve got some guys back, they’re healthy now — so their solid. They beat Emporia last week before we got beat by them. So, it’s a quick turnaround and Emporia is a good basketball team. We’ve got to play some defense and, I think, that’s been our M.O. We beat Washburn Rural and Highland Park, really good teams, with defense. That creates our offense. So, we’ve got to do a better job playing some defense.”
Tipoff is slated to follow the girls varsity games in both match ups with post season implications on the line as well.