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When the Washburn Rural boys (11-4, 4-1) and coach Alex Hutchins were down 24-10 to Emporia (10-5, 3-2) in the middle of the second quarter, they did not necessarily expect to be leaving the night with a 50-42 win and sole possession of first place in the Centennial League.

JackBachelorEmpSenior Jack Bachelor led the way with 17 points as Washburn Rural took a 50-42 Centennial League win over Emporia Friday night. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

“Down the stretch we were, but I probably don’t want to say that we were tough in the first quarter, but I thought we were very tough in the way that we responded,” Hutchins said. “It’s one game at a time, I’ve got to give the coach cliches ,but that’s true and I’m really proud of our guys for holding serve at home in the league … we’ve got to get every one we can so it was great to get this one.”

The game’s slow tempo was not ripe for comebacks but the uber-efficient Junior Blues, shooting over 50 percent from the floor, were able to swing the game by 22 points in their favor.

Rural got a combined 38 points from seniors Jack Bachelor and Wyatt Conklin along with junior JC Heim.

Bachelor led all scorers with 17 while Conklin and Heim combined to shoot nine of 10 from the floor.

“I thought those three did a great job against the zone, Jack and Wyatt did a great job of hitting outside shots and JC did a great job of finishing, getting out and running,” Hutchins said.

The Spartans were able to build their lead on the back of strong shooting. Emporia hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter, two coming from senior Jalyn King, making it 18-8 after one.

“I just thought that we weren’t making them feel enough ball pressure, we were letting them be too comfortable with the ball,” Hutchins said.

The hot shooting continued with two more 3s in the first three minutes of the second quarter, giving the Spartans a 24-10 lead. Washburn Rural would go on to close the quarter on a 10-0 run, the final four points coming on fast-break layups by Heim.

“Defensively we weren’t getting up and pressuring as much as we should,” Hutchins said. “So we told our guys to take another step out and kind of ratchet up the pressure … and the guys did a great job of responding to that.”

It didn’t take long in the third for the Junior Blues to complete the comeback. Heim tied the game at 27 and Bachelor quickly gave Rural the lead right after. Both teams traded the lead back and forth for the remainder of the quarter. Sophomore Amare Jones took it back for the home team with a free throw to make it 32-31 after three.

In the fourth quarter, it was Washburn Rural’s turn to get hot from behind the arc. Back-to-back triples, first from sophomore Kaden Ballard, then from Bachelor gave the Junior Blues a seven-point lead.

Senior Wyatt Conklin hit a three late, giving the Junior Blues a 10-point lead, the largest of the night. Emporia was able to cut the lead down to five but never got any closer with Washburn Rural knocking down free throws and winning, 50-42.

WyattConklinSenior Wyatt Conklin scored 11 points with three 3-pointers in Washburn Rural's 50-42 win over Emporia Friday night. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

JCHeimEmpJunior JC Heim (25) went five for five from the field for 10 points in Washburn Rural's 50-42 win over Emporia Friday night. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

In addition to Bachelor's 17 points and five 3-pointers, Conklin had 11 points on three 3-pointers and four of five shooting and Heim had 10 points on a perfect five of five night.

Sheldon Stewart led the Spartans with 12 points, all from behind the arc. King also reached double figures with 10, going four of five from the floor.

The Junior Blues hit the road next, taking on Junction City next Tuesday.


Emporia 18 6 7 11 -- 42

Washburn Rural 8 12 12 18 -- 50

Emporia (10-5, 3-2) – Stewart 4-9 0-0 12, Leeds 2-5 0-0 4, King 4-5 1-1 10, Jackson 4-4 0-1 9, Rech 2-2 0-0 4, Hess 1-2 0-0 3, Seeley 0-1 0-0 0, Peters 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 17-32 1-2 42.    

Washburn Rural (11-4, 4-1) – Jones 0-3 6-8 6, Ballard 1-4 1-2 4, Morris 0-2 0-0 0, Hirschi 0-2 0-0 0, Bachelor 6-9 0-3 17, Durst 1-1 0-0 2, Conklin 4-5 0-0 11, Heim 5-5 0-0 10. Totals: 17-31 7-13 50.  

3-point goals – Washburn Rural 9 (Bachelor 5, Conklin 3, Ballard), Emporia 7 (Stewart 4, King, Jackson, Hess). Total fouls – Washburn Rural 9, Emporia 15. Technical fouls – None. Fouled out – None.