Kokomo’s boys basketball team had Memorial Gym buzzing with excitement once again Saturday night.
Kokomo topped McCutcheon 54-52 in overtime in the Class 4A Kokomo Sectional’s title game, one night after Wildkats upset rival Marion in the semifinal round in front of a charged crowd at the Big House on the corner of Apperson and Superior.
McCutcheon guard Nate Deno drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime in the tense title game, but the Kats scored first in the extra session and kept the lead the rest of the way.
“I didn’t want to go to overtime, but we were going to get it done no matter what happened,” forward Erik Bowen said. “I had trust in my team the whole way and it was an awesome win. Now we’re just moving on, just one [win] at a time.”
Kokomo’s fourth straight sectional title and state-best 74th all-time sends the Kats to the Marion Regional. Kokomo (16-7) will face Homestead (18-7) in the opening semifinal with No. 4 Fort Wayne North (24-1) vs. No. 3 Hamilton Southeastern (22-3) in the second semifinal. HSE took out top-ranked and two-time defending state champ Carmel in the Noblesville Sectional final.
Kokomo is hungry for the regional after falling to Carmel in the 2012 and ‘13 semifinal rounds.
“We have some business to handle up there,” Bowen said.
Kokomo’s all-senior starting lineup willed the Kats to the sectional title in the seniors’ final game at Memorial Gym. Four starters — Bowen, guards Tayler Persons and Mykal Cox and forward Demarius Warren — played all 36 minutes.
Bowen delivered game highs of 18 points and 10 rebounds. Cox had 14 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals. Warren had 12 points and Persons had eight points and six assists. The Kats are 10-1 since Persons returned from a knee injury.