Mr. Basketball candidate James Blackmon Jr. and the Marion Giants put an emphatic end to the Kokomo Wildkats’ 28-game home winning streak Friday night.
The IU recruit scored 37 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Giants past the Kats 75-51 in a North Central Conference game that brought an estimated crowd of 4,000 to Memorial Gym.
The Giants improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the NCC. The Kats dropped to 1-3 and 0-2.
“I was proud of our guys’ effort. Kokomo is a tough team and this is a tough place to play,” Marion coach James Blackmon Sr. said. “This is the first conference win for us. We definitely wanted to establish ourselves. We talk about how, if we’re going to be respectable in the conference and if we’re going to win the conference, we definitely have to win on the road and I thought our guys came out and matched their intensity early in the ballgame.”
The Blackmons are in their first seasons with the Giants. James Sr. was one of Marion’s all-time best players and a 1983 Indiana All-Star. Now, he is happy his sons, James Jr. and Vijay, are walking in his footsteps. They previously played for their dad at Fort Wayne Bishop Luers.
“I played here, been in this environment,” he said. “I always was excited about the North Central Conference. They didn’t realize the type of enthusiasm you have and the support each team has in this conference, and the gyms are awesome. This matched [expectations] when you saw the big crowd.”
Marion quickly removed any suspense from the game. The Giants bolted to a 21-13 lead by the close of the opening quarter and went on for a 43-26 halftime lead. Blackmon Jr. had 21 points in the half and Alec Turner added 12 points. They combined to drill 7 of 12 attempts from 3-land. The Kats, on the other hand, endured a frigid shooting half, making just 5 of 22 attempts from the field overall.