Defeating defending state champions Wichita Heights in the first round of quarterfinals of the 6A State tournament was a tall order. However, No. 8 Junction City led the Falcons at one point in the first half before Wichita Heights took over in the second half, defeating the Blue Jays 67-44 Wednesday at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita..
The Blue Jays competed well in the first half, including holding the lead for a portion of the first quarter after Heights had an early 6-0 lead. Junction City was boosted in the first half from Jackson Austin. He led the Blue Jays in scoring 12 points in the game. He made four 3s, three of them in the first half, and he made all four of Junction City’s 3-pointers.
The first quarter was neck and neck, with Junction City putting a point less on the board than the 13 scored by Wichita Heights. In the second quarter, Heights scored a few more points than the Blue Jays, putting 13 points on the board compared to 10 scored by Junction City for a score of 26-22 going into the second half. Nine of the points in the second quarter were scored by Jackson Austin for Junction City.
The Blue Jays looked like they were going to turn it around in the first part of the third quarter, behind two points, 33-31, with 4:48 left in the quarter, but by the end of the quarter they were down 10 points, 43-33
One of the big differences in the game was turnovers. The turnovers in the second half helped Heights pull away for a 23-point win. Junction City committed 18 turnovers, which led to 18 points for Heights. Whereas, the Falcons (20-2) committed only 10 turnovers, resulting in four points for Junction City.
The last part of the game is where Heights really wore down the Blue Jays, who only added 11 points in each of the final two quarters while Heights scored 17 in the third quarter and 24 in the final quarter.
Junction City held the lead for about six minutes of the game, and Heights led for 24 minutes.
It was still a good year for Junction City: It was the first state appearance for boys’ basketball in 22 years.
It was also the first time two consecutive winning seasons have happened since 2002-2004. The Blue Jays ended the season with a 13-10 record.