Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

Sports

December 22, 2012

Kats play lights out in winning throwback tourney

Kokomo basketball standout Tayler Persons played with a sense of purpose Saturday following the death of his grandfather Eric Donelson a day earlier.

Persons posted a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Class 4A No. 8-ranked Wildkats to a 67-26 rout of Western in the Coca-Cola Old School Sectional championship game at Memorial Gym.

The 6-foot-2 junior guard also had a strong performance against Taylor in a semifinal game Saturday morning. He scored a game-high 18 points, including 14 in the opening quarter, to lead the Kats to a 56-17 win.

“I wanted to go out and play really good for my grandpa,” Persons said. “He is a great man, I look up to him so much, I love him so much. He just told me to always have heart in the games and to come out focused and that is what I did.

“I just want to give a shoutout to everyone who has told me about my grandpa, told me they’re praying for me. I appreciate it and my family appreciates it.”

The Wildkats repeated as tournament champions. Persons was named the MVP.

“I am so happy to get this win,” he said, noting the play of his teammates. “Back-to-back champions in this is a big thing.”

In the final, Persons made 9 of 13 shots from the field, including 1 of 3 from 3-point range. He also had three assists and two steals.

“Tayler was so focused,” Kokomo coach Brian McCauley said. “He is a great team player and he is a winner. I’m glad he is a Kokomo Wildkat.”

The Kats (9-0) received several other strong contributions in the final. Swingman LaBradford Sebree had 12 points and two assists, post Kylee Beheler had five points, nine rebounds and three steals, guard Mykal Cox had five points, four assists and three steals, forward Brad Dockemeyer had five points, four boards and three assists and forward Erik Bowen had seven points.

“I can’t say enough about our group effort,” McCauley said. “It’s a fun group. They’re deserving of this and hopefully we can keep building on this.”

Kokomo smothered Western (6-3) with a relentless defensive effort. The Kats held the Panthers to 11-of-42 shooting from the field and forced the Panthers into 16 turnovers. The Kats racked up a 21-0 advantage in points off turnovers — including 17-0 in the first half.

Earlier Saturday, the Kats held Taylor to 6-of-26 shooting, forced 28 turnovers and compiled a 31-6 advantage in points off turnovers.

“Our team defense [Saturday] was just phenomenal,” McCauley said. “I’m really proud of the guys’ effort, awareness and intensity and their willingness to be coached.”

Western — which had to survive a triple-OT game against Northwestern in the afternoon semifinal — went from cold to frigid against Kokomo. The Panthers shot 37.5 percent from the field in the first half, then just 19.2 percent in the second half.

“I’m very proud of guys for fighting through that triple-overtime game. I think fatigue did have a little bit to do with our performance [vs. Kokomo], but by no means is that the main reason for our performance. Unfortunately, we came up against a better team [Saturday] evening,” Western coach Bart Miller said.

“Turnovers and rebounding were really big. We just couldn’t buy a bucket. I think that is where the fatigue really set in for us. We short-armed a lot of shots. Give Kokomo credit — they came out ready to play.”

Kokomo jumped to a 7-0 lead. Western closed to within two at 9-7, but the Kats followed with an 18-2 run to take control on their way to a 29-15 halftime lead. At that point, Western had 11 turnovers and Kokomo had just one.

The Kats opened the second half with a 10-2 run to remove any suspense. They were up 49-23 at the close of the third quarter, then outscored the Panthers 18-3 in the final quarter to win going away. They extended their home winning streak to 21 games.

Post Ronnie Smith offered a bright spot for Western, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds.

Kokomo has beaten Western seven straight times, including twice this season. The Kats beat the Panthers 52-30 in both teams’ season opener.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • SPL - KT041714 Kokomo-Western baseball - pic 2 Kats top Panthers in baseball Since the inception of class sports, the annual early-season baseball matchup between Kokomo and Western had been solely for in-county bragging rights. With Western moving up to Class 4A for the next two seasons because of the IHSAA's new success factor, the rivals met up Wednesday as potential sectional opponents for the first time since 1997.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prep roundup for Thursday, April 17 Eastern junior Caleb Aaron tossed a four-hitter to lead the Comets past Northwestern 3-1 in a Howard County baseball clash Wednesday at Greentown.

    April 17, 2014

  • SPL - KT041714 - B1 briefs - Edwards mug Sports briefs for Thursday, April 17 The North Central Conference on Wednesday announced Indianapolis Arsenal Tech will join the conference on April 1, 2015.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPL - KT041614 - Boys golf preview - secondary pic BOYS GOLF: Howard County preview Western's boys golf team is thinking big this season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPL - KT041614 Girls tennis Preview - pic GIRLS TENNIS: Howard County preview After 39 seasons and counting as the boys tennis coach at Taylor High School, Dave Wise is entering his 24th season leading the Titan girls.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041614 - Western hires coaches - mug Western hires football, volley coaches Western High School's search for a new football coach is over. Western on Tuesday named Ron Jankovich its new coach during a board meeting. He spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for Bethel University in Tennessee. He was the Wildcats' co-offensive coordinator.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041614 - Brett Bowman column - Bowman ID BOWMAN: Abreu shines in Kokomo GP Although he might be short in size, California's Rico Abreu was tall in stature after dominating the two-day Kokomo Grand Prix for the USAC Honda National Midget Series and the Lucas Oil Powri National Midgets over the weekend at the Kokomo Speedway.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041514 - Kokomo girls BB coach - mug Cusick is Lady Kats' new coach Heather Cusick is enjoying a pretty good month. Kokomo High School on Monday selected Cusick as its new girls basketball coach. Three days earlier, she became engaged to Michael Mygrant.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sports briefs for Tuesday, April 15 Gary Harris is going pro, thanks in part to coach Tom Izzo's recommendation.

    April 15, 2014

  • Wrestling teams fare well Wrestlers from Western and Peru fared well in weekend tournaments.

    April 15, 2014

NCAA Men's Basketball Poll
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
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Parade
Magazine

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.