By RICK PETERSON
Forty-three. 43. XLIII.
No matter how you put it, scoring 43 points in a high school basketball game is a monster number, and senior Elijah Brooks and his Topeka West Chargers needed every last one of those 43 points to pull out a 67-66 overtime Centennial League victory over a talented Junction City team Tuesday night at West.
Brooks who scored 30 or more points for the fourth straight game, hit 15 of 20 shots from the field, including a 3-pointer, and connected on 12 of 16 free throws as No. 2-ranked Topeka West battled back from 12-point deficit early in the third quarter to improve to 11-1 overall and remain tied for the Centennial League lead at 7-1.
"I'm just glad to get out of here with a win,'' Brooks said. "Coming off the (Topeka Invitational) and playing tonight, it was kind of hard. We played alright, but the intensity was down and the energy was low.
We were all sluggish and stuff, but we got it done and we'll go on.''
Tuesday's game included nine ties and 11 lead changes, including seven lead changes and three ties in the fourth quarter, before the game went to overtime tied at 61.
West, which was coming off its first Topeka Invitational Tournament title since 2004, went up 61-59 on a Brooks dunk with 3:34 left in regulation before Blue Jay senior David Rowell tied the game up at the 2:49 mark.
Both teams missed opportunities down the stretch, sending the game to the four-minute extra session.
Brooks scored the first basket in overtime and junior Xavier Alexander added a free throw to give West a 64-61 advantage with 1:04 remaining in OT.
Junction City junior Sheldon Butler-Lawson cut West's lead to a point with 29 seconds left, but Brooks hit the first of two free throws with 11.6 seconds remaining and Alexander came up with a huge rebound, leading to two Brooks charities with 4.3 left to put the Chargers in front by four.
The Blue Jays, who fell to 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the league, hit a 3-pointer as time ran out to account for the final margin.
"It's alway hard playing a Tuesday game after a big tournament and our tournament was very emotional, so in my opinion, this was kind of a trap game for us and we passed that test,'' Topeka West coach Rick Bloomquist said. "You've got to win trap games and Junction City is not a team you want to play when you play a trap game.
"They are so athletic and so well-coached and they've got some good players.''
Junior Malachi Berg joined Brooks in double figures for Topeka West with 12 points while junior Sincere Austin added seven points.
Senior Howard Johnson led Junction City with 23 points while Terrance Tedder added 21 points.
Like all one-point overtime games, Blue Jay coach Nick Perez knew his team had opportunities to come away with a big win, but he also saw a lot of positives that he thinks Junction City can build on.
"We've just got to clean up some things with the turnovers and the missed free throws and the missed blockouts and then not excuting at the end,'' Perez said. "But I love our guys, I thought they fought hard. This is the best game we've played, I believe, all year long, and we've got to build off of it.
"We can't just be happy about it. We've got to keep moving forward.''
Topeka West, which has now won 10 straight games, face another tough test on Friday, hosting Seaman in a Centennial League matchup.
The Vikings handed the Chargers their lone loss (69-59) early in the season.
TOPEKA WEST BOYS 69, JUNCTION CITY 67 (OT)
Junction City 16 18 16 11 5 -- 66
Topeka West 19 13 18 11 6 -- 67
Junction City (8-3, 5-2) -- Tedder 9-13 2-2 21, Johnson 8-14 2-3 23, Fadiga 1-4 3-4 5, Rowell 2-4 0-0 4, Butler-Lawson 3-10 0-1 7, Sellers 0 0-0 0, Baker 0-3 0-0 0, Clark 1-5 0-0 3, Watts 0-1 0-0 0, Adguzi-Addo 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 25-56 8-12 66.
Topeka West (11-1, 7-1) -- Austin 3-8 0-3 7, Brooks 15-20 12-16 43, Alexander 1-7 1-2 3, Berg 6-11 0-4 12, Putthoff 0-0 0-0 0, Robinson 1-1 0-0 2, Foy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-47 13-25 67.
3-point goals -- Junction City 8 (Johnson 5, Tedder, Clark, Butler-Lawson), Topeka West 2 (Austin, Brooks). Total fouls -- Junction City 21, Topeka West 16. Fouled out -- Butler-Lawson.