By SAM KING Lafayette Journal & Courier
---- — LAFAYETTE — Both sides left with plenty of fodder if a sectional rematch occurs.
In a chippy and physical boys basketball game between two teams riding hot streaks, Kokomo won for the 10th time in its last 11 games, defeating McCutcheon 61-48 at Resler Gymnasium.
The Wildkats (12-6) trailed 35-27 with 4:53 to go in the third quarter, but finished the period on a 10-2 run to tie the score entering the fourth.
“It was a competitive and very physical game, and they had a nice lead and we were able to get some defensive stops,” Kokomo coach Brian McCauley said. “We attacked the rim there in that stretch. I was real proud how we were down there and came back and got it even going into the fourth quarter.”
McCutcheon (13-5) saw its five-game winning streak snapped and now has suffered losses in test games against Logansport, Brownsburg, Noblesville, Hamilton Southeastern and the Wildkats.
“We’ve got to find ways to win those, and that’s part of dialing in here these last couple games and find out how to get over that hump, so to speak, because those are games we’re going to have to win in the sectional,” McCutcheon assistant Chad Peckinpaugh said.
Kokomo was whistled for four fouls, including a technical in the first three minutes of the second half, as the Mavericks built their eight-point lead. The Wildkats outscored McCutcheon 34-13 over the final 13 minutes.
“We just stopped executing, and we had some success in the first half going to the rim and getting some offensive rebounds,” Peckinpaugh said. “We stopped doing that a little bit in the second half, which hurt us.”
Darnell Butler led McCutcheon (13-5) with a game-high 24 points and Trevor Lockwood nearly collected his second triple-double of the season with seven points, 16 rebounds and nine blocks.
Kokomo was led by Tayler Persons’ 22 points and also got 17 from Demarius Warren. Erik Bowen had 13 points and 16 rebounds. Persons had nine rebounds and Warren had eight boards.
Warren provided a 3-pointer to the fourth quarter. Persons made a jumper, McCutcheon’s Spencer Caldwell was called for a foul after the basket, and Warren’s 3 on the ensuing inbounds play put the Wildkats ahead 48-39.
“Once we got the lead, that gave us a little bit of an advantage because McCutcheon had to be a little more aggressive on us,” McCauley said.
Kokomo had only four turnovers and finished with a 9-0 edge in points off turnovers.