BOYS BB: No. 10 Kats deck Berries with 19-0 run to close 3rd quarter

Jan. 6—Logansport's boys basketball team was within hoping distance of an upset in Memorial Gym for more than half the game Friday night.

Then all of the sudden, Kokomo shut the door on that dream.

The Class 4A No. 10-ranked Wildkats went on a 19-0 run to finish the third quarter and put down any remnants of a threat from Logansport. That allowed Kokomo to close out a 78-63 victory in the last North Central Conference meeting with old rival Logan. Kokomo improved to 11-3 overall, 3-0 in the NCC. Harrison is half a step behind at 2-0. Logansport fell to 5-6 overall and 0-3 in the NCC.

Kokomo had led nearly the entire first half and taken a 36-30 lead into halftime. Logan twice cut the margin to three points in the opening three minutes of the third quarter, the second time closing the gap to 40-37 with 5:25 left in the frame.

From there, it was a Kokomo onslaught. The run started unassumingly enough with a single free throw from Kokomo forward Karson Rogers. Then came a dunk by Kat center Flory Bidunga off a feed from Korbyn Hammel, then a transition hoop from Baris Moore, then a slicing drive by Rogers before a Bidunga rebound tip-in made the score 51-37 Kats and the Kats kept rolling.

The run spanned the last 5:16 of the third quarter and closed with a fast-break hoop by Moore on a long rebound where he spotted the clock and efficiently got upcourt for a layup. The Kats led 59-37 after three quarters and the outcome was no longer in doubt. Bidunga had six buckets in the third quarter alone — four in the key run.

Kokomo coach John Peckinpaugh liked the decisive run, but wasn't thrilled with much of the other three quarters of the game. He attributed the third-quarter takeover to "just playing hard and playing with pride and not losing [defensive] assignments from our scout. When our guys want to do it the right way, things work. When they don't want to do it that way, things don't work.

"I thought our guys showed some maturity in the third, played basketball the way we teach it. And then in the fourth we gave up [26] points, kind of turn that switch back off. Can't do that if you want to be a good team."

The Wildkats led 17-9 after a quarter and 36-30 at halftime, causing themselves nearly as many problems as they caused the Berries. Kokomo forced nine Logan turnovers in the first half — with five Reis Beard steals leading directly to seven Kat points — but the Kats committed 13 turnovers of their own in the opening half.

"We just weren't locked in mentally and we let them get some confidence and they hit some shots," Peckinpaugh said of the opening half and first minutes of the second half. "They've got some guys that can play and hit open shots when you give them to them. We weren't mentally into the game and that showed."

Logansport wing forward Jacob Taylor scored 11 points in the first half, nine in the second quarter.

"The first, let's say two-and-a-half quarters ... we followed our game plan pretty well," Logan coach Matt Lange said. "Looked like we got a little tired in that third quarter, we were pushing and pushing and pushing and you get a little tired, you lose your legs and miss some shots.

"I thought the defining point in the third quarter was about three minutes [in], we were down 3 and we lost the ball over in the corner. It just fell off of our hands and from then on I think they went [19-0] on us.

"How do you stop that? How do you stop one of the best players in the nation [Bidunga]?"

Bidunga, a Kansas recruit, finished with 28 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and four blocks. With his first bucket, a post layup midway through the first period, the Mr. Basketball candidate passed D.J. Balentine for third place on the Wildkat boys all-time scoring list. He now has 1,307 points. It was also his 60th double-double.

Rogers also notched a double-double with 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Hammel scored seven points. Beard had a great all-around game with six points seven assists and five steals. Moore added five assists as the Kats racked up 27 helpers, and crushed Logan on the glass 39-16.

Chrisanthony Del Valle led Logan's offense with 21 points, Isaac Russel scored 20 and Taylor 13.

"Coach Peckinpaugh has got a great team. He's a great coach," Lange said. "We were able to get out in transition and get the ball worked a little bit that way. Early we turned the ball over because — it's a big game, big crowd, great team, high-ranked team. If we don't do some of those things, maybe we're in a different position. I thought we played very well."