Demarius Warren had quietly been putting together a solid senior season through the Kokomo boys basketball team’s first 11 games, averaging just a shade under nine points per outing.
Warren broke out in a major way Tuesday night, scoring a career-high 30 points and pulling down seven rebounds to help the Wildkats overcome a sluggish start and eventually overwhelm Westfield in an 80-63 win at Memorial Gym.
The 6-foot-5 forward joined the Wildkats’ program as a junior a season ago, but is in his first season playing at the varsity level. He says he’s thankful to have the opportunity to play a vital role for the team, especially when, two years ago, none of this seemed likely.
“I feel this season so far that I have shocked a lot of people,” Warren explained. “Since I’m doing so well now, people have said I should’ve played [varsity] last year, but last year wasn’t my time. Especially last year with the people we had on the team like LA [LaBradford Sebree] and Hakim [Burnett] – I did not deserve to play, especially with it being my first year playing. I had to grow up and man up. Coach told me in the summer this team was depending on my shoulders to step up. So, I’m trying my hardest to do that.”
Warren put together the best game of his career in efficient fashion. He finished the night 10 of 13 from the field — including 2 of 2 from 3-point range — and 8 of 9 from the free throw line. He scored 25 points in the middle quarters, including a 17-point third quarter on 5-of-6 firing from the field and 6-of-7 shooting from the line. Kokomo led by five at halftime, 36-31, and its lead ballooned to 64-44 through three quarters.
Warren credited his teammates, senior point guard Mykal Cox in particular, for playing a vital role in his huge night. Cox finished with 12 points and eight assists, feeding Warren several times in the post for finishes around the basket.
”I’m really excited about my night, I’m not going to lie,” Warren said. “I’m like a little kid who’s always wanted to score. But at the same time, we have a long way to go. We’re 6-6 [on the season] and need to step it up a little. I want to thank a special teammate, Mykal, for dishing it to me. I have to give him a shout out.”
Westfield held a 19-11 lead at the first stop with the help of 11 points from Ty Osswald as Cox didn’t play in the first quarter. Shamrocks (2-9) led by as much as nine at 23-14 with under seven minutes to play in the first half, but the Kats snapped out of their funk and rattled off a 17-3 run over the next five minutes to surge ahead 31-26 and maintained a five-point lead at the half, 36-31.
”I thought we started with energy — It wasn’t like we had a lack of energy — but it wasn’t intelligent energy,” Kokomo coach Brian McCauley said. “There in the second quarter we had a little bit better discipline — just a little, but not much — and attacked the basket quite a bit. We held them to 12 points in that quarter — their lowest scoring output of any quarter — and got to the free throw line 14 times, going 12 of 14. We got to the line and got some stops, and that was the difference.”
Warren scored 12 points in Kokomo’s 14-2 run to start the second half. He finished off an old-fashioned three-point play to put the Kats up 50-33 with 4:53 to play in the third. Westfield got no closer than 13 the rest of the way as Kokomo’s lead swelled to as much as 24 in the fourth.
Erik Bowen added 17 points and a game-high eight rebounds in the win on 5 of 6 shooting from the field and 7 of 10 from the line. The Shamrocks keyed hard on him in the post, helping Warren emerge for a career night.
Osswald led Westfield with 30 points, hitting 6 of 12 from beyond the arc. No other Shamrock scored more than seven points.
FINAL Westfield 63 Kokomo 80 Next: Kokomo hosts Tipton Saturday