MUNCIE — At least one thing is for sure: Kokomo’s North Central Conference boys basketball opener Friday night certainly wasn’t short on thrills.
The Wildkats and Muncie Central battled through nine lead changes and 14 ties, needing an extra session before a victor emerged.
The final :05 of the overtime is what will have people talking the longest, though, as the game went down to a final shot that left the Bearcats roaring and the Kats shaking their heads in disbelief.
Up 53-52 with :5.8 showing, Kokomo senior Erik Bowen swatted Phillip Corthen’s 3-point attempt into the stands. On the inbounds, with :5.2 showing, Marcus Dukes drove the lane and threw up an errant shot. Tyler Arens grabbed the rebound, turned, and got a shot off that left his hand just as time expired.
Or did it?
“I was just kind of watching it in a fog, hoping they missed,” Wildkat coach Brian McCauley said. “They missed the first shot, I saw Arens catch it, I’ve got the scoreboard in the other corner of my eye and obviously it was just really, really close. In high school, unfortunately, there’s no replay. If it was the NBA or college, we could take a look at it, but unfortunately we can’t.”
Several times in the extra session, Central tried to put the game away with the 3-ball, but was 0 of 4 following Corthen’s blocked attempt. Kokomo called a timeout following that play, and the Bearcats set up a play for the inbound.
“I’d like to say that we drew it up and we executed perfectly,” Central coach Matt Fine said. “Obviously, we didn’t do that. We were trying to slip the ball to Tyler, but not that way. That happens with wild shots at the end of games. Who knows what the deal with the shot was … of course I think it’s good and Brian doesn’t, but I’m sure he was saying to his team, ‘We rebound the basketball and it’s over.’”