ANDERSON — In a game of runs, Kokomo’s boys basketball team came up with the biggest one at the most important time at Anderson Friday night.
Trailing 52-49 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Kats outscored the Indians 23-4 over the first seven minutes of the period to pull away for a 72-62 North Central Conference win.
R.J. Oglesby turned in a superb performance for Kokomo (6-13 overall, 3-6 NCC) with a 26-point explosion and Jackson Richards added 17 to pace the Kats, who pulled out the win without playmaker Bobby Wonnell, who sat out the game with a strained Achilles tendon.
“Both of those guys were fantastic,” Kokomo coach Bob Wonnell said of Oglesby and Richards’ play. “Jackson played probably as good of a floor game as he’s played at least this season. Shoot, he had 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists. He always seemed to have a good pulse on the game and kind of kept us running what we were trying to do.”
Richards was strong for Kokomo early, scoring nine first-quarter points as the Kats led 18-17 at the first stop and helping Kokomo shut the door down the stretch with six points during the final run.
Oglesby was a consistent presence in the paint throughout, shooting 9 of 13 from the field and 6 of 8 from the free throw line. He also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that put the Kats up by 11 and 14 points respectively and nailed down the win.
“R.J. was very, very active running the floor. At the start of the game, I think he was getting his feet together. Once he got a little bit more into his rhythm he was making his baskets and being more aggressive going up toward the backboard. And then he got out there and his 3s he took were good 3s.”
Kokomo used an 8-0 run to start the second quarter to create some space against Anderson (8-9, 4-4 NCC). Oglesby capped that run with a basket that put the Kats up nine at 26-17.
Tyrelle Wills, who finished with a team-high 21 points for the Indians, netted 12 of those in the second frame to keep Anderson within striking distance. Her knocked down a pair of 3-pointers late in the half and the Indians trailed just 37-32 at the half.
The Indians picked up their defensive intensity to open the third period and that led to an 11-3 run to open the frame and a 43-40 lead.
Former Kokomo basketball player Donnie Bowling, in his first year as coach at Anderson, said he didn’t say anything too profound in the locker room at the half to spark his squad.
“Just tried to get them to refocus,” Bowling said. “We got the shots we wanted in the first half. I think we just ate layups. So if we make those layups we’re good. But it wasn’t really anything I said. I think they just wanted to win and felt like we could come back and win.
“But doing that, I think we ran out of gas. Doing that really extends you, you use a lot of energy, so I think at the end we ran out of gas because of that.”
The Indians couldn’t create more separation than three points, and the fatigue started to show in the fourth as Anderson started to miss shots it had hit most of the game. The Kats capitalized for the victory.
Wonnell was happy to see his squad battle back for the win after taking Anderson’s best punch.
“We’ve been in that situation several times throughout the course of the season so for us to be able to handle that pretty well and come out and execute, move the basketball well and get quality shots, there’s been a lot of times this year where our opponent has just as much been the clock, running the clock out and closing games that we haven’t always been able to do but [Friday] we were able to do that pretty well and I’m proud of them and happy for them.”
P.J. Flowers finished in double figures with 11 points for the Kats, knocking down three triples that all came at crucial times for Kokomo. Shayne Spear shared rebounding honors with Richards, grabbing eight boards.