Both Junction City basketball teams fell to Topeka High School Friday night at Shenk Gymnasium.
The Lady Blue Jays lost 72-27, and fell to 0-13 on the season. The Trojans got up on JC early, converting JC turnovers into easy baskets. Topeka was able to go up 26-5 before the Lady Blue Jays ended the first quarter with two buckets to close the gap to 26-9.
Using their size in the paint to grab offensive boards and again scoring off turnovers, the Trojans had a field day on the offensive end. Outscoring the Lady Blue Jays 18-7 in the second quarter, Topeka was able to boost its lead to 28 going into halftime.
While not able to ship into the deficit, the Lady Blue Jays were able to keep a reasonable pace in the third quarter. Mellana Davis had four of her seven points in the third frame, as Alyssa Grygier got three of her team-high eight points in the third.
Despite being down, the Lady Blue Jays hung tough, and never quit. With just two minutes to go, Maja Bellika stood tall in the paint and drew a charge to get her team riled up.
In the boys game, coach Derek Perez knew a good 11-2 Topeka team was going to come into Shenk Gymnasium and not hand the Blue Jays anything.
On a technical foul to begin the game, the Trojans were able to capitalize on both free-throw attempts, and hit from long range directly after to jump to a quick five-point cushion.
The main method the Blue Jays had to keep pace was by relying on their leading scorer, A.J. Dickerson, to help keep them in reaching distance. Dickerson poured in 21 points in the first half to pace JC, which faced a five-point gap at halftime. But after some adjustments by the Trojans at halftime, Dickerson was having a much harder time finding a bucket.
“I think A.J. was tired; I think he tried to settle more than he was attacking,” Perez said after the loss. “He made a couple jumpers in the first half and I think he went back to settle in. I need to do a better job of rotating him out, and that’s on me. I felt he had a great game in the first half; second half nobody else was getting involved. You have four guys in the paint. It’s tough to do — we have to get some guys to step up.”
Dickerson was held to four points in the second half, which gave him a total of 25 for the night. The Trojans were able to outscore the Blue Jays 17-9 in the third quarter, which the Blue Jays often struggle in.
With Dickerson struggling to find his groove in the second half, Anthony Twiggs contributed off the bench for JC. Twiggs scored 10 points, and gave JC the energy boost Perez said his teams needs.
“He does a good job,” Perez said. “His best thing is defense; he brings that energy. We need to get guys who can score. Aaron Hamilton hit a three; we have to get him more consistent. We need James Hall to score. We need to get Darrin (Battiste) going. We need to get Kody Westerhaus back; he can stretch the defense for us. Unfortunately, he’ll probably be out tomorrow night too.”
The Blue Jays went on a little run that overlapped the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, relinquishing a 10-1 run to keep the teams separated by five at 58-53.
Topeka answered the JC run with a couple and-one plays by Trojans star Ky Thomas. Thomas, with a game-high 26 points, led the charge as the Trojans soared to a 74-59 victory.
The Blue Jays won’t have much time to dwell on this one, as they will be back in action Saturday night against Emporia High School. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. for the girls, and 6 p.m. for the guys at Shenk Gymnasium.