The Emporia High boys had any number of chances to change the outcome of Tuesday night’s contest.

The Spartans repeatedly missed layup after layup in the second half.

Even after Washburn Rural missed three consecutive 1-and-1 free throw chances in the fourth quarter, there were no points to be found for EHS.

The result was aa 38-31 loss to the Junior Blues in which the offense spent more time in neutral than it did in a forward gear.

“(We had) too many plays we left on the table,” EHS Head Coach Beau Welch said. “Whether that’s missing a shot around the rim, whether that’s missing an open three, defensively, I thought we gave them a couple easy ones late that in no way we should’ve given them.

“Just a collection of too many opportunities we didn’t take advantage of.”

E-High had a 7-0 lead midway through the opening quarter, but Rural closed the gap, including the fortune of being awarded three free throws after a foul issued on a desperation three at the buzzer. The Blues’ Josh Williams made all three to close the gap to a two-point ballgame.

WRHS then tied the contest up early in the second.

There were three lead changes from that point before the Blues carried a 16-13 cushion into the half.

“We did some good things defensively,” Welch said. “I thought we showed some growth and I thought we showed a lot more discipline defensively. We’ve just got to be able to make some winning plays down the stretch there to win the game.”

The lead still belonged to the visitors entering the fourth, but Beau Baumgardner scored four straight points, on two free throws and a stretched out lob between a pair of defenders, to stretch the lead to three.

After that, the struggles became more distinct.

“We’re up 31-28 with four (minutes) to go ... and we’re unable to close that out. They make a couple plays and unfortunately we didn’t. We’ve got to get better at some of those situations. Hopefully, moving forward, we can make some of those plays.”

Welch hopes the offense can come back to life while the defense maintains its present course, as the Spartans travel to Topeka West on Friday.

“We’ve just got to keep getting better. I thought we got better from last week, tonight was definite progress, we’ve just got to be able to make some plays in big moments.”

WRHS 7 9 12 10 — 38

EHS 9 4 14 4 — 31

Washburn Rural: Williams 11, Berry 3, Hutchinson 10, Krueger 5, Kidd 9.

Emporia High: Snyder 15, Baumgardner 6, Hines 3, Douglas 5, Hoyt 2.

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