Kokomo's boys basketball team turned to a new tradition while playing its traditional opener against Western on Wednesday.
The new tradition: unearthing a gem.
Kokomo got a great game out of senior Demarius Warren. The 6-foot-5 forward scored 15 points as the Wildkats took control early and sailed to a 72-50 victory over the visiting Panthers in Memorial Gym.
Warren, who played less than a minute of varsity action his entire junior season, shined in his first extensive minutes with the Kokomo varsity. Working intelligently in the offense, he cut to open spots to score on seven shots without missing once, took five rebounds, and showed the disruptive defensive presence Wildkat coach Brian McCauley loves.
"I look at the stat chart and he didn't miss a shot," McCauley said. "Demarius Warren, he's another remarkable story of guys sticking with it in our basketball program. He kind of reminds me of Huston Clark. Huston Clark came out of nowhere and he was just a phenomenal player, one of the most improved players in our program. And then Kylee Beheler does the same thing. Now it's Demarius Warren's turn. He got off to a great start."
As did the entire squad. Kokomo's starting guards put the Kats in good spots. Mykal Cox scored a team-high 16 points and had six assists, and Jeron Gray added a dozen points and four assists. Forward Erik Bowen added 15 points and was commanding on the glass with a dozen rebounds.
"Every kid played well," McCauley said. "Mykal Cox with his playmaking ability, his vision of the court, and then Jeron Gray was fantastic, 12 points, he drew six fouls, four assists, and zero turnovers for a first varsity start. How about that? Then Jordan Matthews came in [off the bench] and was really good, really tough. Jazimar Woodard was solid. Those four guards were really good. Erik, he had a double-double, as a senior leader. I thought Marcelle Kenner gave us solid minutes."