Junction City might enter Friday’s contest with Manhattan High at 1-3 on the season, but MHS boys’ basketball coach Tim Brooks said none of that matters.
Because when these teams meet, it’s rivalry time, and anything can happen.
“Regardless of what they’ve done, it’s going to be tough, because they’re going to play harder against us than they will anybody else,” he said. “Over there you never know what might take place, so we’ve got to approach it the same way we always do.”
The Indians will enter the contest at Junction City sitting at 1-1 on the season, coming off Tuesday’s 68-31 win over Great Bend.
Keaton Barragar led the Indians with 19 points and knocked down three 3-pointers in the game, while Deante Burton scored 13 and Brandon Payne had 12.
Junction had lost each of its games by double-digits, and fell to Washburn Rural 83-42. But the Blue Jays beat Hays on Tuesday 66-37, and are looking to turn things around and back in the right direction.
Brooks said the Blue Jays are built well at the guard and forward positions, but are maybe a solid big man away from being a really good team.
“I think their guard play is better and their wing play is longer,” he said. “And I think outside of a big guy, they are pretty complete.”
Last time the Indians traveled to Junction City, it was a January game that featured a big-time performance from Payne.
The then-MHS junior scored 26 points in a 69-38 win over the Blue Jays, including lead a 19-0 run by himself in the second quarter. Payne scored all of those points off of the bench, and hit five 3-pointers in the contest.
That game showed that Payne could play a significant role in the Indians’ success, and he has developed into the Indians senior leader this season.
At this point of the season, Brooks is still looking for a few guys to have their breakout game.
It appeared that Barragar had a breakout game with 15 points and five 3-pointers against Wichita Sunrise Christian Academy, but then he put up 19 in the second game of the season on Tuesday.
The Indians showed a knack for running in transition on Tuesday, and finishing on the other end with dunks from Burton and layups from many other players. Whether Manhattan came out in the 3-2 zone or the press, the Indians were able to create points on the other end.
The Blue Jays will make the return trip to Manhattan on Jan. 13.