ZIONSVILLE – Kokomo faced a tough task Friday night at Class 4A No. 7 rated Zionsville. Not only were the Eagles undefeated with one of the top juniors in the state, the Wildkats were missing two of their regular players.
Kyle Wade and Jeremy Baker were both out with leg injuries, but the Wildkats were still able to hang tough, eventually falling 70-56 thanks to a herculean effort from junior point guard Isaiah Thompson for the Eagles (6-0).
“We have got to get better at containing the basketball, but he is a top-notch guy,” said Kokomo coach Bob Wonnell. “He is a top notch guy who is going to play Division 1 at a power 5 school. When you have a guy that can shoot like that and get the ball to his teammates, plus a guy who can hit free throws when you’re trying to get back into it, you’re tough to beat.”
Thompson, whose older brother PJ is the starting point guard at Purdue, was honored before the game for crossing the 1,000 point threshold for his career on December 9th. He then went out and put a hefty dent into his second 1,000 points by dropping a career-high 40 on Kokomo (2-4).
Thompson got it done in a variety of ways, too. He was 5 of 10 from behind the three-point line, but also drove to the basket to hit on 7-of-11 two-point attempts. At the free throw line he was virtually perfect, hitting his first 10 attempts before finishing 11 of 12.
“You talk about 40 points, but they came on just 21 shots,” said Wonnell. “It was a really, really efficient game for him. We feel like we’ll get a chance to play them again [in the sectional] so we’re going to have to do a much better job.”
Despite being shorthanded Kokomo started strong. They led in the early moments and trailed only 17-12 after a quarter. Thompson’s first basket of the night, a three-pointer, put Zionsville in front for good at 6-5 with 5:27 left.
The Eagles were not able to totally separate themselves, however. Kokomo was able to get to the free throw line repeatedly and stay in the game. Anthony Barnard was also strong on the glass with nine first half rebounds. He would finish with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Kokomo shot 12 first half free throws to Zionsville’s 3 and trailed only 32-27 at the half. Ultimately, it was the inability to get the lead under five points that did the Kats in. Kokomo had multiple possessions in the final two minutes of the first half and early in the second half to get the lead under five points, but was unable to do so.
Thompson opened the second half scoring with a three-pointer, and Hogan Orbaugh followed with a basket to get the lead to 10 in the first 72 seconds of the second half. Kokomo was able to cut it back to five again when Nate Hemmerich scored with 4:39 left to make it 41-36.
That was as close as Kokomo would get, however. The Eagles answered with a 10-2 run in which Thompson would score seven points. Kokomo got within single digits a few times the rest of the way, but trailed 54-44 after three quarters and Thompson was able to close the game out at the line. In the fourth quarter 10 of his 12 points came at the free throw line.
“We didn’t get to do our normal conditioning through the week because of finals,” said Zionsville coach Shaun Busick. “We had to make sure we were sharp and we weren’t tonight. That’s on me.”
Trajan Deckard joined Barnard with 14 points to lead Kokomo despite battling foul trouble for most of the first half. Hemmerich also finished with 12 points.