Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana


February 16, 2013


Kats win NCC outright with gritty victory over Richmond

— A few minutes after Class 4A No. 9-ranked Kokomo put the wraps on a 49-40 victory over Richmond in a North Central Conference boys basketball showdown Friday night at Memorial Gym, the Wildkats came back out of the locker room and shared their celebration with their fans.

A special victory deserved a special celebration.

Kokomo finished NCC play 7-0, giving the Kats their third league title in four years and 17th all-time — but just their second undefeated title.

“It feels fantastic to be undefeated champion in the NCC, the second time in the history of our program to be undefeated,” said Junior All-Star candidate Tayler Persons, who had a terrific line of 21 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and three assists.

“It was one of the most intensified games I’ve ever played in my life,” he added. “Everyone was focused, intense.”

Kokomo’s other undefeated NCC championship came in 1996 when current coach Brian McCauley was a key player for the Kats.

McCauley loved the Kats’ championship effort Friday night.

“I am so proud of them,” he said. “They’re winners, they’re warriors. They find ways to win. It wasn’t pretty at times, but we got better on offense as the game went on and we made some key plays down the stretch.”

The Kats improved to 18-2 overall and extended their home winning streak to 26 games.

Richmond (14-8 overall, 5-2 NCC) had a shot at a share of the title, but had to settle for its third straight runner-up finish.

The Red Devils seemed poised to shock the Kats. The Devils led 18-16 at halftime at which point they had an 8-3 advantage in second-chance points, then bolted to a 28-20 lead midway through the third quarter.

Persons and LaBradford Sebree led the Kats on a 10-2 run over the rest of the quarter to forge a 30-all tie. Persons had a hoop-and-harm three-point play and a 3-pointer and Sebree scored the other four points, tying the game with a three-point play off a putback.

Persons noted the Kats remained confident in the face of the eight-point deficit in a low-possession game.

“Even if we’re down, we play as hard as we can,” he said. “It’s just amazing playing with a bunch of guys who know what to do and know how to play off each other. I just love my team so much.”

The squads traded jabs in the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter before Hakim Burnett gave the Kats the lead for good, knocking down a jumper for a 36-35 advantage at 6:12.

Kokomo clung to the one-point lead for more than two minutes. Richmond missed a pair of shots and Persons took a charge at 4:27. Persons followed with a 3-pointer off a high screen for a 39-35 lead at 3:53.

After Richmond answered with a basket to make it 39-37 at 3:24, Kokomo protected the lead with defensive stops. Sebree and Persons both had steals.

The Kats went up 41-37 when Erik Bowen scored inside off a Persons feed at 1:18. After Richmond missed a shot, Sebree split a pair of free throws at :54. The Kats then put the win away — Persons came up with a steal at :44, and Sebree scored off a Persons assist for a 44-37 lead at :28.

Richmond came no closer than six the rest of the way.

“It could have gone either way there and our players stepped up and really executed well,” McCauley said, noting the Kats denied the Devils second-chance points in the second half.

Persons made all kinds of plays in the fourth quarter. He scored six points, dished three assists and had two steals.

“I wanted this game so bad. My mindset in that fourth quarter was don’t let us lose,” he said.

Richmond coach Joe Luce tipped his hat to Persons, noting the Kat standout “willed his team to a different level” in the second half.

Luce also had praise for Kokomo’s program.

“I’ve known Kokomo players for a long time. I can tell you one thing — they strike me as winners and those guys displayed that [Friday],” he said. “I don’t owe them anything, I just have a lot of respect for what they have accomplished. They have mental toughness and a trust in the fact they’re going to find a way to get it done. You can’t pull it out of a magic bottle or make up a recipe, it’s just something that is in your heart and your mind and those guys have it.”

Richmond played without starting guard Davious Webster.

“He’s played really well, but at the end of the day, you play with the hand you’re dealt,” Luce said. “There are a lot of guys that win in Vegas not getting the best cards dealt to them. Obviously we didn’t play ours as well as we could have.”

Bowen finished with nine points and five boards for Kokomo. Sebree had eight points and Mykal Cox had five points and four assists.

 Charles Hampton led Richmond with 17 points. Joel Okafor had 12 points, seven boards and four assists.

• Kokomo’s JV team took a 65-41 win to also cap a 7-0 NCC run. Marcelle Kenner led the JV team with 17 points and Jazimar Woodard had 15.

“I’m really proud of the JV guys and coach [Mike] Susong,” McCauley said.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Sports briefs for Friday, August 1 The Kokomo Post 6 baseballers survived a high-scoring affair with Floyd's Knob Post 42 on Thursday to emerge with a 12-10 victory and become one of the final four squads alive in the American Legion state tournament.

    August 1, 2014

  • Fans fuel Colts at night practice Early in Thursday night's practice at Anderson University, Indianapolis Colts tight end Coby Fleener found himself running free behind the defense in 11-on-11 drills.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sports briefs for Thursday, July 31 The Kokomo Post 6 senior baseball team dropped a 7-2 decision to Newburgh Post 44 in the American Legion state finals on Wednesday night.

    July 31, 2014

  • SPL - KT073114 - KT Colts - pic Colts focusing on situational improvement The theme at Anderson University carried over to the field, and the Colts' 14 turnovers were the fewest in the NFL last year.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT073114 - Brett Bowman column - column sig BOWMAN: Lambert captures McIntire event In the first-running of the Dwayne McIntire Memorial Race, Jordan Lambert beat a stellar field to claim the win Saturday night at the Miami County Speedway in Peru.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT073014 - Colts camp - pic COLTS: One week of camp in the books The first week of Indianapolis Colts training camp has ended at Anderson University, and the players received their first day off Tuesday. Practice resumes today with the daily morning walkthrough followed by a public session scheduled to begin at 1:50 p.m. More than 10,000 fans attended at least one of the first five practices this summer.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • BASEBALL: Sixers surge to win The Kokomo Post 6 senior baseball team scored a thrilling victory over Plymouth Post 27 in the opening round of the American Legion state finals on Tuesday night.

    July 30, 2014

  • SPL - KT073014 - Brett Bowman column - column sig BOWMAN: Gardner knew how to live life What is it about dirt track racing that makes me drop nearly everything and everyone around me to witness a race?

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sports briefs for Wednesday, July 30 The Indiana Smash softball team won the North American All-Sanctioned 12-U World Series on Sunday. The Smash went undefeated in the tournament. Following pool play, the Smash went 5-0 in bracket play, then beat the Lady Lightning for the title.

    July 30, 2014

  • NCAA Concussion Lawsuit-9 [Duplicate] NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules CHICAGO (AP) — The NCAA agreed Tuesday to settle a class-action head-injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football, hockey, socce

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
SportsKT twitter
More kokomotribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.