It looked like the girls basketball season opener it was Friday at Northwestern as visiting Kokomo took a 51-41 win over an injury-plagued but stubborn Tiger squad.
“Sloppy” would be the kindest way to describe a contest in which the teams combined for a whopping 71 turnovers.
But both teams also found some bright spots, especially in the second half, as the squads settled in and played much better basketball over the final 16 minutes. Several times the Lady Kats appeared ready to turn the game into a runaway, but Northwestern’s young team never gave in and kept it close to the end.
The brightest spot for the Kats was the 3-point shooting of senior Jasmine Love, who sank 5 of 9 attempts en route to a game-high 18 points. Two other seniors, starter Alanis Jones and sub Cierra Tinder, scored 11 points apiece for Kokomo.
With five players in street clothes due to injury and only one senior dressed for the game, the Tigers hung tough, relying on the steady inside play of sophomore post Brooke Treadway, who posted a double-double with 13 points and a whopping 19 rebounds.
Early on, it appeared the Kats might be headed to a blowout win. Kokomo scored the first nine points of the game before quick NW junior guard Kaitlyn Daanen sank two free throws to make it 9-2 at the first stop.
Northwestern struggled early, turning the ball over on its first seven possessions of the game. But Kokomo had trouble finding the basket and made plenty of errors of its own to allow the Tigers to stay close.
Treadway’s basket early in the second period cut the lead to 9-4, but Kokomo responded and stretched the lead to 20-12 on Schnetavia Williams’ hoop with 1:03 to play in the half. Treadway answered with a hoop-and-harm three-point play to cut it to 20-15, but Kaila Stiner hit a pair of freebies to put the Kats up 22-15 at intermission.
Kokomo coach Jason Snyder noted, “We had 15 turnovers in the first half and shot 23 percent from the field, and that’s what’s going to happen [in a first game]. In the second half, I thought you saw what you’ll see a little bit more of as the year goes on. We shot 40 percent from the field in the second half and 55 percent from the 3-point line.”
Northwestern followed a similar pattern, hitting just 4 of 20 shots from the floor in the first half and 11 of 27 in the second.
Daanen scored a pair of hoops early in the third period around a bucket by Kokomo’s Allie Lowe to cut the gap to 24-19, but Kokomo responded with a 12-2 run to reach its largest lead of the night at 36-21 midway through the period. A pair of treys by Love fueled the run, and Jones added four points on a basket and a pair from the charity stripe.
But the Tigers refused to fold and narrowed the margin to 41-30 at the end of three periods as Treadway scored inside twice, junior Sydney Wells hit a triple, and Daanen added a basket on a steal.
But the Tigers could never get closer than nine points in the fourth and the Kats held on for the win.
Northwestern coach Kathie Layden was pleased with her team’s effort.
“We battled, I thought, the entire game,” she said. “There were some points in the game where I felt like Kokomo started to go on a run, but I felt like the girls never quit. Obviously, the first game, for anybody, you’re going to come out and be a little hesitant at times. We didn’t take care of the ball well at all [with] 20 turnovers in the first half. But we’re still learning positions right now.”