JUNCTION CITY — Lulls during the middle portion of Friday night’s game with Junction City High School threw a wrench in the Great Bend Panthers’ works.
GBHS built a 12-7 lead after one period, and then it was Junction City’s turn. The Blue Jays, who outscored the Panthers 19-7 in the second quarter for a 26-19 halftime lead, turned it up a notch after the break to nail down a 49-38 victory at Schenk Gymnasium.
“I think we played a pretty good first half, except for about two minutes,” Great Bend head coach Chris Battin said. “The end of the second quarter, I think they went on an 8-0 run and we just never regrouped after that.
“It gave them a little lead going into the half, and we just didn’t value possessions late in the quarter. We had some bad mental mistakes and ultimately, it cost us the game.”
Junction City (1-1) built on its lead after intermission, taking a 39-29 advantage in the fourth quarter, where it traded baskets with Great Bend and held on down the stretch, dropping the Panthers to 1-3 overall.
“We had some success at different times,” Battin said. “We cut it to four and we cut it to five (in the second half), but then we would just have a mental lapse and just didn’t close out quarters very well. In the third quarter, they went on another 9-2 run or so, and that’s the difference in the game.
“We can’t have those mental lapses, and we can’t have those times where we don’t execute and don’t value the basketball.”
The more physical Blue Jays got their upper hand on their counterpart with their superior athleticism.
“I think their length and their aggressiveness caused us some problems,” Battin said. “They played really hard. They mixed up their defenses. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They got after us and forced those turnovers.
“We had 13 turnovers, and that’s because they forced them.”
The inside-outside combination of 6-foot-5 senior center Cedric Johnson and 6-2 shooting guard Frank Johnston created havoc for the Panthers, scoring 13 points apiece. While Johnson was a load in the paint, Johnston lit up the scoreboard with three 3-pointers.
“I thought No. 35, Johnson, had a really nice game,” Battin said. “He rebounded for them well and got some stickbacks. We lost their shooter, No. 34 (Johnston), a couple times. We talked about it and talked about it.
“Ultimately, we lost (Johnston) twice and left him once. When you do that, you’re not going to win ballgames.”
Power forward Ethan Henderson led the low-scoring Panthers with 10 points, and forward Chad Touslee and guard Matt Marshall each scored seven points. Marshall had two of their trio of 3s.
Henderson’s athleticism around the basket was apparent in the first half, but then the Panthers started having lulls, which ultimately proved fatal.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
At Junction City
Junction City 49, Great Bend 38
JUNCTION CITY (1-1)
Michael Johnston 0 0-0 0, Darius Redrick 1 1-2 3, Josh Bryan 0 0-0 0, Danny Thornton 1 2-2 5, Semaj Johnson 2 0-2 4, Eric Stepan 3 2-2 9, Tanner Leuker 0 2-6 2, Frank Johnston 5 0-1 13, Cedric Johnson 5 3-7 13. Totals 17 10-22 49.
GREAT BEND (1-3)
Matt Marshall 2 1-2 7, Chad Touslee 1 5-6 7, Brock Ibarra 1 2-2 4, Bryce Beck 1 0-0 2, Gabe Joiner 1 0-0 3, Ethan Henderson 5 0-0 10, Josh Lutz 2 0-0 4, Nick Warren 0 0-0 0, Cole Mulch 0 1-2 1 Totals 13 9-12 38.
Great Bend 12 7 10 9 — 38
Junction City 7 19 13 10 — 49
Three-point goals — Junction City 5 (Johnston 3, Thornton, Stepan); Great Bend 3 (Marshall 2, Joiner).