New Castle (4-6) entered the night shooting 45 percent from 3-point range as a team, but was limited to 27 percent Friday on 6-of-22 firing. That included an 18-percent performance in the first half (2 of 11).
“We’re a team, with our size, that has to be able to shoot the ball well to be successful,” NC coach Daniel Cox said. “We did that in spurts, but you can’t just be a jumpshooting team and hope things go well. We need to get to the free throw line more and make them guard the dribble drive.”
New Castle shot just seven free throws (hitting 4 of 7) to further help Kokomo, which hit 12 of its 16 shots from the floor in the second half.
After taking a 33-29 lead into the fourth, the Kats stretched their lead out to 46-36 with 2:11 to play after holding NC scoreless during a critical four-minute stretch of the fourth. New Castle got no closer than five the rest of the way.
Demarius Warren led Kokomo with 14 points, while Jordan Matthews added 13 points off the bench to keep the Kats afloat as they navigated foul trouble. Erik Bowen added 11 points and five rebounds, and Mykal Cox added seven points, six assists and five boards despite playing the final four minutes with four fouls.
Abe Haler led New Castle with 17 points. He entered the night hitting 50 percent from beyond the arc, but was 0 for 7 Friday. Andrew Garrett added 13 points in the loss for the Trojans.
FINAL New Castle 46 Kokomo 53 Next: Kokomo hosts Carmel tonight.