The Junction City Lady Blue Jays fell to rival Manhattan inside the Nest Tuesday 26-50.
Coach Tim Testa took the loss as a failure on his behalf to get the team ready.
“I told them, 'I need to do a better job of getting them ready and I need to do a better job of just continuing to coach,’” he said. “I think sometimes, I try and let them do too much and it's not that they can't do what I'm trying to let them do, but I just gotta keep coaching and coaching and coaching. So, I took a lot of it tonight and I told them they gotta be ready to bounce back tomorrow.”
Junction City scored first in the competition after sophomore Mellana Davis sank two from the free throw line almost 90-seconds into the game. The two points would be the only on the Junction City side of the scoreboard when the quarter ended.
Manhattan rolled out on a 14-0 run on the opposite end of the court to take the lead.
Up against a hard full court press from the Indians the Lady Jays struggled to get shots to fall.
While on defense, Manhattan head coach Scott Mall told his players to keep the ball away from junior Lucy Rivera.
The fact he was calling her out as a strong player was not remised on Testa.
“It's kind of cool when when people have to watch our film,” he said. “I mean, there's some games they don't have to watch us and they don't have to really pay attention to much of what we do. But, it's reassuring to the girls to hear that stuff too. It kind of solidifies the fact that they're still good ballplayers in other people's minds and people have to prepare for Junction City now and that's something we're proud of.”
The Lady Blue Jays nearly tripled their first quarter score when the second quarter finished.
Senior Madison Escobar scored first on a layup after taking the ball away from a Manhattan player 36-seconds in. In the process of the shot, Escobar was fouled by Jaiden Weixelman.
With the chance at the three point swing, Escobar stepped up to the charity stripe, before making the shot.
Rivera added two points to the board just past the mid-point in the second quarter making two shots from the free throw line.
A stronger defensive effort by the Lady Blue Jays slowed down the scoring on the opposite end as Manhattan only scored seven points to maintain the lead, 7-21, heading into the break.
Junction City’s attempts to score were limited as they tossed the ball toward the hoop before getting fully set.
“We did not put it in the basket very good early in the game,” Testa said. “We missed a couple layups, we we missed a lot of jump shot and I think we made a 3 pointer until the last five seconds of the game when Andrea made hers. But, I think that it shows the girls that they're capable of scoring — we just got to do it a little bit more consistently.”
After the break, the Lady Blue Jays added eight points in the third and 11 points in the fourth quarters respectively to close out the night with 20 points. The team stayed within the 30-point threshold to keep from a running clock situation through three minutes into the final quarter — a plus for the team.
Junction City did stay out of foul trouble during the match another positive for the team as the season winds down.
“I think part of it is that we are getting better at guarding — the defensive techniques stuff,” Testa said. “It's something that we continue to drill, and it shows that we've got a little bit of speed and that we can try and get passed people. Now, we just got to continue to get all the way passed them and get to the basket instead of throwing up not great shots.”
The Lady Blue Jays were scheduled to travel to Topeka West Wednesday, but weather conditions postponed the rescheduled game to Thursday night. Testa said the ride to Topeka will be a concentration asset for the team.
“It'll be a lot about us,” he said. “It won't be much about Topeka West — it needs to be about ... if we think we're playing hard we need to make sure that we're playing harder than we think we are. If I think I'm coaching a lot, I need to coach more than I think I am. It's going to be a whole lot of not necessarily soul searching, I don't want to think think that they're down on each other or down on the program. We just need to make sure we look internally against Topeka West and not just focus on the girls in the purple.”
The rescheduled match and Friday’s match against Topeka Highland Park are two matches Testa said are in the realm of being winnable contests.
“Our next two are what we call winnable games,” he said. “Topeka West only beat Highland Park by three, Highland Park beat us by one. So, Topeka West is right there and then hopefully we can have something good to happen on Wednesday to kind of have a little bit of momentum going into Friday because I know they're going to want that one.”
Tipoff for both contests this week are slated for 6 p.m. each night.