In the words of Kokomo boys basketball coach Brian McCauley, New Castle is a frustrating team to play at times.
Friday night, the Wildkats dominated nearly every significant statistical category in their matchup with the Trojans at Memorial Gym, but New Castle refused to yield before the Kats were able to grind out a 53-46 win in the squads’ 100th meeting.
The victory for Kokomo marked the seventh straight win in the series between teams that may have been playing for the final time in the regular season. New Castle left the North Central Conference prior to this season, and the teams are not slated to play each other next season at this time, although Kokomo’s schedule is not officially finalized.
“We’ve done it for seven straight years, and that’s the longest winning streak against New Castle in well over 100 years of high school basketball for Kokmo, so I’m proud of the guys over the past several years for the defensive discipline they’ve had. And, the toughness,” McCauley said.
Kokomo (5-0) did a number on New Castle defensively and dominated the boards, allowing the Trojans no second-chance points in the contest while outrebounding them 29-10. That’s the fewest rebounds surrendered by the Wildkats since they held Northwestern to 10 in a game during the 1989-90 season.
The Kats also outscored NC 20-10 in the paint, including a 10-4 mark in the first half, helping Kokomo hold a 21-17 advantage at the half.
“Our guys did a good job of playing to our strengths. … we did a tremendous job on the boards [Friday] night,” McCauley said. “They got one shot pretty much all night. That’s significant. The guys are extremely coachable. They’re a great group that’s hungry. They work hard day in a day out, and I’m just really proud of everyone’s contributions. We really needed everyone to make the plays they made. It was a collective effort.”