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Offense key for Indians vs. Blue Jays

By Joel Jellison

This season just hasn’t quite gone Junction City’s way.

The Blue Jays are 2-6 this season, with both close losses and blowout losses, but it’s a win last week that has Manhattan High coach Tim Brooks thinking.

Junction City defeated Topeka West 66-61 last Friday to earn its first Centennial League win of the season, and Brooks said he thinks the Blue Jays will be a tough opponent when they come to Manhattan on Friday.

“They have gotten better,” he said. “I think they are going to come over here with a little more confidence because they’ve won a couple league games, so we’re going to really have to shore up some things offensively and continue to battle defensively.”

Offense was lacking at an extreme level on Tuesday in the Indians’ 25-21 loss at home to Washburn Rural.

The Indians shot approximately 17 percent in the loss, knocking down just 6-of-34 from the field on the night. But Brooks came away as impressed with his team’s defense as he has been all season long, and he hoped it could build off of that success.

Manhattan (3-3) had a chance to tie the game with less than a minute to play in the game, but they missed a go-ahead 3-pointer looking for the win. The Junior Blues shot poorly at the free-throw line in the final minute, but the Indians couldn’t get another basket to go in the win.

Offense wasn’t a problem the last time the Indians met up with the Blue Jays in Junction City, with a 76-51 win.

The Indians got out to a 16-12 lead in the first quarter, and led 38-22 by halftime. The team continued to extend its lead in the second half, leading 58-32 before the fourth quarter started.

Brandon Payne finished the game with 18 points for MHS, while Keaton Barragar scored 12 points. The Indians had 10 different players score against Junction City in the first contest between the two teams.

The Indians will be going to a tournament next week, making their second trip to the Dodge City Tournament of Champions in the last three years. Manhattan will open the tournament up with Hutchinson, a team they faced in the McPherson tournament last season.

The tournament will also give the Indians the opportunity to face Wichita Heights and Kansas signee Perry Ellis for the first time since the 2009-10 season when they saw them at TOC and in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

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