The Junction City High School Blue Jays lost to Topeka High School last week with a score of 62 to 45.
Coach Nick Perez said Sunday evening that the Jays had played Topeka High back to back, the first day beating them at home 62 to 59 before losing on Topeka’s home court.
“We played them back to back days, which is really weird, but we were trying to make up a game,” he said.
Perez was honest about where his team had slipped up.
“We didn’t guard very well. Defensively, we were terrible,” he said. “But we had some kids playing some different roles and they’re doing a good job."
The coach said one of the team’s star players, Howard Johnson, had injured his elbow during a recent tournament in Dodge City. The team took second, but Johnson is still out due to the injury at this time. The injury took him out for about four or five weeks, according to Perez.
“He was our scorer, so we’re kind of struggling there,” Perez said.
Johnson averages about 16 points per game, the coach said, and his injury has left the team struggling to fill that gap.
“We’ve got kids trying,” Perez said. “They’re doing their best and trying to step up to it."
This is what has led to players trying to fill different roles than they’re used to, he said — with boys who usually play defense trying to learn to be scorers.
“We’re playing hard,” Perez said. “We’re just making a few mistakes here and there that are costing us opportunities to win."
The coach was uncertain when Johnson would be back on the court, he said, but the injured elbow could keep the player out for a good four more weeks if not longer.
“We’re hoping to get him back by substate, but I don’t know,” Perez said. “It’s looking pretty iffy. So it’s a tough blow. We just can’t put it all together. You know, one day we play really good defense and the next day we play really terrible defense. So we’ve just got to be more consistent. We’ve got to be more consistent on our habits and what we do."
He said the team had started its season strong, going into the holiday break four and one, only to fall off later in the season. The boys are now six and six.
“it’s been going well,” Perez said. “We’ve kind of got kids learning. (We’ve) got three seniors this year. But it’s been a process — (that’s) probably the best way to put it.”
The Blue Jays will play Topeka Seaman High School tonight with tipoff starting at around 7 p.m. at home in Shenk Gymnasium.