Kokomo and Carmel share several of the same keys to success in boys basketball. Both squads are fundamentally sound. Both are skilled offensively. And both are tough as nails defensively.
Thus, when the squads face each other, it’s like a chess match — and the latest game comes Saturday in the Class 4A Marion Regional semifinal round.
“Hopefully we’ll have a little Bobby Fischer in us and we’ll be able to think a couple moves ahead,” Kokomo coach Brian McCauley said.
Both squads are tournament tested. Kokomo was the 4A state runner-up in 2011. The Wildkats had hopes of making another state run in ‘12, but the Greyhounds beat the Kats 52-48 in a regional semifinal. Carmel went on to win the state title.
Now, the squads are set for a regional rematch.
No. 1-ranked Carmel (21-2) won the loaded Carmel Sectional. The Greyhounds hammered North Central 58-38 in the title game after North Central had surged into the final with victories over No. 6 Hamilton Southeastern and Fishers.
“When you can dominate a team like North Central like they did, that’s definitely an eye opener,” McCauley said. “They took it to them right from the tip. North Central panicked, took very bad shots, tried to pressure Carmel and then gave up really high-percentage shots.
“With Carmel, it’s no secret if a team gets down to them and they have to really pressure Carmel, that’s to Carmel’s advantage,” he added.
No. 8 Kokomo (22-2) won the Lafayette Jeff Sectional. The Kats beat Marion and Jeff to reach the final, then ripped McCutcheon 64-43 for its third straight sectional title.
“I really liked how our guys played together,” McCauley said. “It was just a really solid week — I think probably our best week of the season.”
Carmel is led by its backcourt trio of senior James Crowley (14.6 ppg), senior Michael Volovic (14.1) and sophomore Ryan Cline (9.2) and junior forward Zach McRoberts (10.2). Volovic dishes 4.9 assists per game. McRoberts is the team’s top rebounder, pulling down 6.3 per game.