Kokomo’s boys basketball team opened Class 4A Lafayette Jeff Sectional play Tuesday night with an 86-56 rout of longtime rival Marion.
Next up for the No. 8-ranked Wildkats is another longtime rival.
Kokomo (20-2) and Lafayette Jeff (7-14) meet in the opening semifinal at 6 p.m. today at the Crawley Center. The Wildkats own a 55-46 lead in the all-time series and have won the last four meetings and six of the last seven.
“It’s interesting because we played Marion on a Friday night early in the regular season and we played Jeff the next game, on Saturday. We find ourselves in the same situation where we played Marion and now Jeff,” Kokomo coach Brian McCauley said.
The Kats beat the Bronchos 45-35 on Dec. 15 at Memorial Gym.
“Both teams have gone through a lot of growth since that game. They’ve gotten better and hopefully we have as well,” McCauley said.
Jeff, which received a first-round sectional bye in the blind draw, enters tonight on a five-game losing streak but the Bronchos showed good fight in their regular-season finale, battling No. 6-ranked Hamilton Southeastern tough before falling 60-53.
McCauley noted the Bronchos had a two-point lead with 5:00 to play in that game.
“They’re a team that plays very hard, tries to outwork people. Their effort level is outstanding. For instance, they took five charges against us in our first game,” McCauley said. “It’s going to be a challenging game — we’re certainly not going to intimidate them. They played one of the best schedules in the state, they’re on their home floor and they’ve had a lot of time to prepare.”
The Bronchos are led offensively by Tyler Buchanan (10.6 ppg), Lucas Wallace (9.3), Peter Ripke (8.4) and Quarin Hood (7.5). Hood had a team-high 12 points when the Bronchos played the Kats in the regular season.