The announcement a couple weeks ago that Junction City was awarded the 2A State Basketball Tournament this season has put a pleasant buzz in the air.
The community’s perennially powerful football program had, for it, a disappointing season, falling in the first round of the playoffs.
Football’s loss turned into basketball’s gain. The Dragons lead the 2A-8 with a 15-4 overall record, 9-1 in league play.
“The guys have played pretty well this year. We’ve been pretty consistent most of the year,” said Junction City coach Kendall Hutcheson. “I think the excitement level is pretty high. As far as the team goes, the state tournament is something we’re not even thinking about, right now.”
Junction City will host the state tournament. But there’s no guarantee the Dragons will compete in the state tournament. The team will have to navigate through a difficult regional and the 2A-8 conference is no joke, either.
Woodlawn (11-4, 6-1) and Hampton (11-2, 5-1) are both vying for the league lead and Fordyce (4-5, 4-4) and Lafayette County (7-7, 3-4) have the talent to beat any team in the district. The Redbugs handed Junction City its lone league loss.
“After not playing well down the stretch last year, we understand if we don’t focus on the now, we’ll be setting all this up and hosting for all the other teams,” Hutcheson said of the state tournament. “We really don’t want that to happen. We’re concentrating on getting there first.”
It all starts with conference play and securing a high seed in the regional tournament.
The Dragons will play Lafayette County on Tuesday and host Fordyce on Friday. Next week, Woodlawn, Bearden and Hampton are the scheduled opponents.
“These next two weeks will pretty much determine the seeding for the district tournament,” said Hutcheson. “We’re really concentrated on what’s next and what we’ve got to do next.”
The district tournament will be held at Lafayette County.