By Todd Fertig

A dismal third period doomed the Washburn Rural boys’ hopes of scoring a big Centennial League win Tuesday, with the Junior Blues falling to the visiting Junction City Blue Jays, 63-55.

GriffinDurstJCity 1Washburn Rural senior Griffin Durst scored 18 points in the Junior Blues' 63-55 loss to Junction City Tuesday night. [Photo by Doug Walker/Special to TSN]

Trailing by just two points at halftime 32-30, the Junior Blues were ambushed by a nine-point Junction City run to start the third period.

Washburn Rural failed to score for nearly four minutes and mustered just three points in the quarter.

By the time the Junior Blues stemmed the tide early in the fourth period, the Blue Jays led 52-33.

“Honestly, we felt like we were getting decent looks. We just weren’t knocking them down,” Washburn Rural coach Alex Hutchins said of the fateful third period.

While Washburn Rural managed just three points in the third period, Junction City junior Larkin Turner was knocking down 10 of his 18 points in the quarter.

Despite trailing by as many as 19 points in the fourth period, Washburn Rural mounted a rally to make it close. They outscored Junction City 22-14 in the final quarter, cutting the lead to just five points before finally falling, 63-55.

Washburn Rural was playing its second game in two days, having outlasted Manhattan 70-65 in overtime just the night before.

“It would probably be easy to attribute it to the fact that we were going back-to-back, playing an overtime game the day before,” Hutchins said. “We play a thin rotation as it is. But at the same time, we only scored three points, but we gave up a lot of points, too. We’ve got to be able to weather the frustration of those moments and push through and still get stops.

“I think fatigue was part of it. But we can’t blame it on that. I just think Junction was better tonight.”

Hutchins pointed out that, to get where the Junior Blues hope to go, they will have to play on consecutive days in March.

“Everybody’s ultimate dream goal is to get to (the Class 6A state tournament in) Wichita,” Hutchins said.
“And there you will play three days in a row this year. I think fatigue was a factor, but we can’t let that be an excuse.”

JCHeimJCity 2Senior JC Heim (25) scored 10 points in Washburn Rural's 63-55 loss to Junction City. [Photo by Doug Walker/Special to TSN]

Washburn Rural senior Griffin Durst matched Turner’s game-high 18 points. JC Heim and John Hoytal each contributed 10 for the Junior Blues.

Junction City improved to 14-2 on the season. Jackson Austin scored 15 points and Lovell Autry had 12 for the Junior Blues.


Junction City   17 15 17 14 -- 63

Washburn Rural   14 16 3 22 -- 55

Junction City (14-2, 5-1) – Austin 4-7 4-4 15, Autry 3-10 6-7 12, Williams 3-9 0-1 6, Ruffin 2-7 2-4 6, Turner 8-14 2-2 18, Handy 1-1 0-0 3, Mitchell 1-1 0-0 3, Albanese 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-49 14-18 63.

Washburn Rural (7-9, 4-2) – Leonard 1-3 0-0 2, Ballard 2-9 3-4 9, Hoytal 4-7 2-5 10, Durst 7-14 1-1 18, Heim 4-8 2-4 10, Jones 3-7 0-1 6. Totals: 21-48 8-15 55.

3-point goals – Junction City 5 (Austin 3, Handy 1, Mitchell 1), Washburn Rural 5 (Durst 3, Ballard 2). Total fouls – Junction City 15, Washburn Rural 13. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None. 

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