It was Winter Homecoming night at Junction City High School Friday, and the community and student body came out in full force to show support as Highland Park came to town to play both basketball teams. Highland Park played spoiler by sweeping both games.
The Lady Jays welcomed a 10-6 Highland Park team to Shenk Gymnasium that edged them by 32 points in their last meeting. Friday’s contest ended up with a 73-21 score, but Junction City showed signs of improvements despite the large deficit.
A big problem for the Lady Jays this season has been turnovers, especially on their own side of the court. Friday, they showed more success in bringing the ball up the court, and beating the Scots’ pressure. Lucy Ramirez played a big role in this, as she put her head down with a full head of steam to beat her opposition down the hardwood to set up the offense. Ramirez was the high-scorer for the Lady Jays, scoring nine of the team’s 21 points.
The Scots’ size was too much for JC to handle, as they converted missed shots for easy put-backs on countless opportunities. Rebounding remains a weakness for the Lady Jay front-court, and TiaLah Taylor and Jae’Mya Lyons of Highland Park took full advantage of that.
Highland Park ended the second quarter on a 20-0 run to go into halftime with a 30-point lead. JC only put up seven points from that point on, as the Scots pulled away with fast breaks and put-backs in the paint.
Although the deficit was large, the Lady Jays made some positive strides in defeat.
In the boys game, a Highland Park team with only one win came into Shenk Gymnasium with determination. It was Homecoming night for a red-hot Junction City team that was coming off an emotional victory over rival Manhattan in the Little Apple. Spirits were high for the Blue Jays, and they were playing some of their best basketball of the season.
The first quarter was very much a see-saw battle between the two teams; trading bucket after bucket, with no team able to garner a sizeable lead.
The Scots hit the offensive glass in the second frame, turning garbage into gold on multiple possessions. The Blue Jays responded with a couple threes from seniors Aaron Hamilton and A.J. Dickerson to keep them in the game. The Blue Jays were able to outscore the Scots in the second quarter, going into the halftime break holding a narrow one-point lead.
The third quarter, like other games for the Blue Jays, was where Highland Park was able to separate. HP continued to hit the offensive glass and draw a lot of miscommunication for the Blue Jays. The team was able to contain Dickerson in the third quarter, holding him scoreless in the period. Without Dickerson making his mark in the quarter, the Blue Jays were unable to find a rhythm or someone to take over the scoring load. The Blue Jays only dropped five points in the third, falling behind by 10 points heading into the final quarter.
Dickerson was later able to find his scoring touch, but it was too little too late for the Blue Jays. They were able to score as a team, but the Scots had an answer. With the Blue Jays getting into the penalty at the 6:25 mark of the fourth quarter, Highland Park was able to spend a large duration of its time at the charity stripe. The Scots won by the score of 66-56.
The Blue Jay press helped them inch closer, but not close enough as the Scots took a pair of wins on Homecoming night.