After four consecutive losses, the Junction City High School girls basketball team is back on the winning track.
The Blue Jays turned in their best defensive performance of the season Jan. 4 en route to a lopsided 44-15 win over Highland Park.
Junction City put pressure on the Scots from the opening tip and never let up, taking away Highland’s momentum at every turn.
After the game, head coach Justin Hoover said he was pleased by his team’s effort on both ends of the floor, but especially on the defensive end. Hoover said smart defense allowed his team to slow the Scots’ offensive press.
“It was a good outing for us,” Hoover said. “I thought defensively we were in the right position on the floor most of the time. That was probably our best defensive effort.”
With the win, Junction City improves to 2-4 on the season. Highland Park drops to 1-5.
Although he was pleased with Junction City’s shot selection, Hoover said he still would like to see his Blue Jays play with more of an aggressive edge on offense.
Junction City shot about 45 percent from the floor.
Hoover said that was a positive for the offense, but there’s always room for improvement.
“We were a little tentative, though,” he said. “We’re still a little too tentative.” Junction City seniors Peyton Pender and Shanna Witt led the Blue Jays with 12 and 11 points, respectively. The two bigs accounted for 19 of the Blue Jays’ 21 first-half points and helped control the tempo. Junction City took a 21-6 lead into the break.
“Shanna faced up real well and hit those shots,” Hoover said. “Peyton was rebounding and getting put-backs.”
Witt took charge of the first quarter, scoring the first seven points for the Blue Jays, including a trey at the quarter’s midway point.
Pender forced a Highland Park time out at the 2:44 mark with a deflating rebound and putback. The 6-foot-1-inch senior appeared to be a commanding force underneath the basket the entire night.
By Tim Weideman
Tim Weideman | DAILY UNION
Junction City freshman Kealee Rains, left, tallies seven points in a Jan. 4 game against Highland Park, while junior Kori Kamm scored six points, and sophomore Cassidy Meadows scored two points in her effort off the bench. The Blue Jays won the game, 44-15.