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BOYS BB: Kats face Bronchos in sectional semifinal; 8 other area teams also in action

Mar. 1—Kokomo's boys basketball team returns to the Crawley Center tonight for the Class 4A Lafayette Jeff Sectional's semifinal round.

The No. 4-ranked Kats (23-3) face the host Bronchos (13-9) in the 6 p.m. opener. Logansport (10-13) takes on Marion (11-12) in the second semifinal. The championship is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

In Tuesday's opening round of the all-North Central Conference sectional, Kokomo beat Harrison 69-50 and Marion beat McCutcheon 64-58. Lafayette Jeff and Logan had byes.

Kokomo and Jeff have a deep and competitive history. They first met in the 1911-12 season and have played at least once in every season since the 1932-33 season. The Kats hold a 62-55 lead in the all-time series. That includes a 7-5 edge in postseason meetings.

Recently, the Bronchos had beaten the Kats six straight times, but Kokomo has won the last three. That Kat happy streak started with a 49-42 win the 2022 sectional championship. Kokomo center Flory Bidunga had a triple-double of 30 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in that game.

This season, Kokomo beat Jeff 65-41 in an NCC game on Jan. 26 at Memorial Gym. Bidunga led the charge with 24 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocked shots, Karson Rogers had 16 points and eight boards and Korbyn Hammel had 12 points and six assists.

In four career games against the Bronchos, Bidunga has averaged 20.3 points, 15.3 rebounds and 6.5 blocked shots and shot 77.3% from the field. The Kats are 3-1 in those games.

Kokomo heads into tonight's game on a 14-game winning streak. Rogers is averaging 18.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists, Bidunga is averaging 18.4 points, 13.0 rebounds, 4.5 blocks and 3.4 assists and Zion Bellamy is offering 9.0 points and 3.5 assists.

The Bronchos are a perimeter-oriented team that averages 17 3-point attempts per game. The Bronchos have good scoring balance as four players average 10 points or more — Devion Penny (14.3), Alonzo Clawson-Smith (13.4), Ahkeem Wilson (11.1) and Angelo Hausmanis (10.1).

The following are looks at the sectionals involving other KT-area teams.

AT MISSISSINEWA

The Class 3A Mississinewa Sectional looks wide open after the two teams with the best records in the seven-team field, No. 8-ranked Bellmont and Maconaquah, both lost in the opening round.

Tonight's semifinal round has Northwestern (12-7) vs. Mississinewa (15-8) in the 6 p.m. game and Peru (13-10) vs. Oak Hill (13-10) in the second game.

Mississinewa upset Bellmont 57-55 in Tuesday's opener. Overall, the Indians have won four of their last five games with the lone loss coming to Class 4A No. 2-ranked Noblesville. Northwestern, which had the sectional's opening-round bye, closed the regular season on a 6-2 stretch.

Mississinewa and Northwestern met on Dec. 2 at Northwestern with the Indians taking a 54-46 win. Preston McCann led Ole Miss with 13 points. Preston Sims led the Tigers with 16 points and Hayden Cook had a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards.

Peru and Oak Hill advanced to the semifinal round with thrilling wins on Wednesday. Peru beat Norwell 45-42 on Ian Potts' 3-pointer at the buzzer and Oak Hill topped Maconaquah 67-66 on R.J. Shugart's 3-pointer with :01.9 to play.

The Golden Eagles beat the Bengal Tigers 67-59 on Jan. 5 at Peru. The Tigers led 51-48 after the third quarter, but were not able to hold on for the win. Freshman guard Jace Tonagel led Oak Hill with 30 points. Junior guard Gavin Eldridge led Peru with 24 points.

AT TIPTON

The Class 2A Tipton Sectional's semifinals have No. 3-ranked Tipton (22-2) vs. Eastern (12-11) in the 6 p.m. game and Taylor (16-8) vs. Eastbrook (7-16) in the late game.

Tipton whipped Elwood 66-34 in Tuesday's opener while Eastern had the sectional's bye. The Blue Devils and the Comets did not meet in the regular season.

Taylor and Eastbrook advanced to the semifinal round with victories on Wednesday. Taylor beat Blackford 51-46 and Eastbrook defeated Madison-Grant 61-50.

Taylor and Eastbrook met a month ago in a game at Taylor. Drey McClatchey scored 16 points and Javionne Harris had a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Titans to a 54-46 win.

AT CASS

The host Kings join the fray at the Class 2A Lewis Cass Sectional after having an opening-round bye.

The 6 p.m. semifinal has Pioneer (9-13) vs. Wabash (18-5). The second semifinal has Cass (8-13) vs. Winamac (12-12).

Cass and Winamac did not meet in the regular season. They last met in the opening round of 2021 sectional play.

AT LAFAYETTE CC

Carroll is part of the semifinal field at the Class 2A Lafayette Central Catholic Sectional.

The 6 p.m. semifinal pits Clinton Prairie (18-3) against LCC (15-8). Prairie, which had an opening-round bye, had won 12 games in a row before losing to North Newton to close the regular season. LCC beat Seeger 71-34 in Tuesday's opening round.

Carroll (15-9) faces Covington (10-13) in the second semifinal. Carroll beat Delphi 68-56 in the opening round while Covington had a bye. It's the second straight year the teams have met in the semifinal round — the Cougars beat the Trojans 64-38 last season.

AT TRI-CENTRAL

Liberty Christian beat Anderson Prep 71-49 in the Class A Tri-Central Sectional's opening round. That trimmed the five-team field to four.

Tonight's semifinal round has Daleville (12-9) vs. Cowan (10-11) in the 6 p.m. game followed by Tri-Central (13-9) vs. Liberty Christian (14-9).

Liberty Christian has won the last two sectionals. The Lions beat TC in the opening round in 2022. That was the teams' last meeting.

Bryan Gaskins is the Tribune's sports editor. He may be reached at bryan.gaskins@kokomotribune.com or 765-454-8567.