In the final basketball game to be played in Shenk Gym, the Junction City boys got a season-continuing 68-57 win over Topeka High thanks to a strong second-half effort.
The win pushes the Blue Jays record to 10-11 this season and moves them from the sub-state play-in game to a match-up with No. 1 seed Lawrence-Free State in Lawrence, Tuesday evening.
Junior Howard Johnson led the way for Junction City with a strong 22-point performance including going 4-7 from three.
Senior Chris Dixon and junior Seth Clark each had 17 points and junior Terrence Tedder had 10 points.
The Blue Jays trailed by eight after the first quarter but trimmed the Topeka lead to a point at the half. That’s when Junction’s offense caught fire, nearly doubling their point total through the third quarter and adding another 28 points in the fourth to firmly put the Trojans away and secure the win.
Junction will now head to Lawrence Tuesday night to face a Free State team led by junior Cooper Jackson who’s averaging 11.6 points per game this season. The Firebirds have lost just three games this season with one of those losses coming against a team from Missouri. They are averaging 59.9 points per game this season which is just slightly above what Junction City has allowed this season (59.1) and several points more than what the Blue Jays are averaging themselves (56.5).
Tip-off between Free State and Junction is set for 7 p.m.
A short-handed Lady Jays basketball team did not have enough horses Saturday afternoon to get a final home win in Shenk Gym versus Lawrence-Free State in the 6A sub-state play-in game.
Junction City was without senior star Lucy Rivera along with Sarah Rexrode and Dorian Robinson as they were all out with illness leading the Lady Jays to a 50-26 loss, ending their season at 7-13.
The loss of Rivera and Robinson was devastating. Rivera is the team’s leading scorer and leader on the court and also leads the team in assists and steals while Robinson is the teams’ second-best rebounder, coming into Saturday’s game averaging 6.3 boards per game. Rexrode, a freshman, had turned into a contributor for the team as of late and was averaging 4.5 points per game.
With all of that being said, the Lady Jays put up a strong effort but committing 20 more turnovers than Free State really put them behind the eight-ball for the majority.
The Firebirds got up on Junction City early, taking an 11-0 lead before Junction fought back to get the lead to three at 13-10. Free State outscored the Lady Jays 13-3 until the end of the half and by the end of third, they were up 20. Even though the Lady Jays had their best defensive effort of the game in the fourth quarter, it was not enough to erase Free State’s big lead late in the game.
Senior Mellana Davis picked up the scoring load from Rivera and had 20 points on 5-12 shooting including going 10-12 from the free-throw line. She also grabbed 12 rebounds which made her final performance in a Junction City uniform a double-double.
Ariana Gold had four points and Ava Deguzman had two.
Even with the struggles that the Lady Jays have faced this season, their seven wins this year are the most in program history since the 2012-13 team also won seven games.
Head coach Tim Testa will return seven girls off this year’s roster, not including all eight “C” team players, some of which earned some varsity playing time throughout the season.