JUNCTION CITY — Manhattan High senior guard Tate Brown motioned to his teammates to keep their chins up as they walked off the court after a taxing 52-37 loss at Junction City Tuesday evening.

After trailing by just two at halftime, the Indians found themselves on the wrong side of a double-digit loss that extended their losing skid to three.

Though Manhattan again struggled with turnovers — giving up the ball 18 times Tuesday — it was not the deciding factor in the game, as Junction City also coughed up the ball 15 times.

“I know people are going to point to turnovers (as what’s holding us back), and I am as well,” Manhattan head coach Benji George said. “Our turnover rate is way too high for us to win basketball games. I fully recognize that. But we definitely left a lot of points on the board in those positive possessions that we had where we got shots at the rim.

“We’re struggling with the physicality of (Class) 6A and Centennial League basketball, and we’re struggling with the pace. We’ve got to use practice to build that confidence and play through physicality. We’ve got to finish better around the rim.”

One of the things that didn’t help matters Tuesday was attrition.

Senior forward Trey Holloway, one of the Indians’ top reserves, was out with the flu, and senior guard Cade Perkins, who’s been one of Manhattan’s most consistent scoring threats, was at less than optimum health while playing through an injury. The senior only had two points on the night and did not hit a single shot from the field.

“Cade was a shell of himself tonight from a health standpoint,” George said. “I just commend him for trying, but it was obvious that he wasn’t 100%. So that hurt, and then Trey would’ve helped a ton in the paint. But the flu is going around and he’s got it, so we had to play it cautious obviously. The other outcome of that is that (junior forward Jack Wilson had) to be on the floor for long stretches of time. It is what it is. We’ve got to get back right from a health standpoint and then fix the things on the floor.”

No Indians scored in double-figures, but Brown and junior Cole Coonrod each had eight.

Junction City jumped ahead 11-6 after the first quarter, but a 5-0 Manhattan run to start the second tied the contest at 11.

The teams went back and forth throughout the end of the half, and while the Indians did not manage to take a lead in that span, they kept it close and only trailed 20-18 at intermission.

“The game was exactly what I wanted it to be with us heading into halftime: down 20-18, because we were playing against a team that feels like they should be scoring 80 every night,” George said, “so I just thought if we could ugly the game up and keep it low scoring, then it might frustrate them. We did that until the early fourth quarter. Even going into the fourth quarter, it was only an eight-point game and you’re one or two possessions from just hanging around and making them tighten up. But then we went dry offensively in the early fourth quarter, and then things started to snowball on us.”

Junction City started the second half on a 7-0 run and never really looked back, stretching its lead to double-digits by the end of the third and nearly 20 in the fourth quarter.

Junction City senior Terrence Tedder led all scorers with 14, followed by 12 for senior Howard Johnson.

Manhattan will have another tough challenge Friday when it hosts a talented Topeka West team (3-1) fresh off a close win over Shawnee Heights.

“It doesn’t get any easier, and it’s not going to in our league,” George said. “Topeka West is a similar style to Junction City, led by an absolute all-star in (senior Elijah Brooks), but hopefully tonight has helped prepare us for that. But we have to be more comfortable in the paint as the game gets physical and fast.”

JUNCTION CITY 52,

MANHATTAN 37

Junction City (4-0, 3-0) – Tedder 4 4-6 14, Johnson 3 4-4 12, Fadiga 3 1-2 7, Clark 2 0-0 5, Baker 1 1-1 5, Rowell 2 0-1 4, Butler-Lawson 0 0-3 0. Total: 15 10-17 52.

Manhattan (1-3, 1-2) – Brown 4 0-0 8, Coonrod 3 0-1 8, Wilson 3 0-0 6, Schartz 1 1-1 4, Elumogo 1 1-2 4, Delort 1 0-0 2, Perkins 0 2-4 2, Conley 1 0-0, Dowling 0 0-1.

Total:14 4-8 37.

3-pointers– Junction City 5 (Johnson 2, Baker, Tedder, Clark), Manhattan 3 (Coonrod 2, Elumogo).