By TRAVIS MILLER Kokomo Tribune
---- — LEBANON — If Kokomo boys basketball coach Brian McCauley was looking for the elusive complete game from his team, he got it Saturday night at Lebanon.
The Wildkats played some of their best basketball of the season and were thoroughly dominant in a 74-41 win over the Tigers, the Kats’ eighth win in their last nine games.
“We’re playing really well right now and it is the time period where you want to do that,” McCauley said. “Two years ago we came over here with a pretty good team and only won by three. There have been a lot of Kokomo teams that have come over here and lost, but we just had great execution and intensity [Saturday].”
Kokomo dominated every facet of the game and did so from the opening tipoff. They jumped to a 23-3 lead midway through the second quarter as Lebanon missed 9 of its first 10 shots. Lebanon managed just a single 3-pointer in trailing 12-3 after one quarter and both Tayler Persons and Jordan Matthews were dominant early.
Persons finished the first half with nine points and Matthews had eight, but it was Kokomo’s teamwork that made the biggest difference. Erik Bowen had eight first-half rebounds and Mykal Cox ran the offense efficiently with three assists.
“A lot of credit to Kokomo. They took advantage of our weaknesses and our youth,” Lebanon coach Albert Hendrix said. “Our kids were intimidated and back on their heels a bit. It is a learning lesson for us coming down the stretch.”
Kokomo held a 33-15 advantage at halftime and showed no intention of letting Lebanon get any closer in the second half. Cox continued his brilliance by dishing out seven second-half assists as he got nearly everyone involved. He would finish with a double-double of 13 points and 10 assists while also notching six steals.
Bowen also finished with a double-double as he was dominant in the paint. The All-Star candidate finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, four of them coming on the offensive end.
“We had 32 assists for the weekend [combined with 17 Friday night at Huntington North] and that is just fun basketball,” McCauley said. “The stats don’t lie. We got to the line 18 times so we were attacking the rim. We out-rebounded them. This was just great, unselfish basketball.”
A total of five players finished in double figures for Kokomo. Persons finished with 11 and is now 26 points short of scoring 1,000 for his career. Matthews finished with 10 points and five steals while Demarius Warren had 13. The biggest cheer was saved for senior Jordan Eley, who connected on his first career 3-pointer late.