GIRLS BB: Kokomo beats Logansport in sectional opener

Jan. 31—Once Kokomo's girls basketball team finally got in gear on Tuesday night, the Wildkats motored.

Stuck on 0 points nearly half the first quarter, then stuck on two points until the 1:03 mark, Kokomo closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 9-2 lead into the first break against Logansport. Then Kokomo scored the first six points of the second quarter and the game was in hand.

Kokomo was up 15-2 at that point and never let Logan get close, beating the Berries 55-22 in the opening round of the Class 4A Kokomo Sectional.

"We just started taking care of the basketball," Kokomo coach Haley Peckinpaugh said. The Kats had three quick turnovers early in the game to stifle their offense, even while they were stifling Logan. "The first quarter was pretty rough and we had some first-game jitters for sectional, but after we started taking care of the basketball and playing our way, we played OK."

Kokomo took over once the Kats got entry passes in to center Aijia Elliott. With the game tied 2-2 after nearly 7 minutes, Elliott hit a pair of free throws with 1:03 left in the first to put Kokomo in the lead for good. Then with :40 on the clock, she scored a post bucket and got fouled, hitting the free throw.

The Kats then closed the quarter with a transition hoop. Wildkat forward Regan McClain blocked a shot in the paint, grabbed the rebound and wheeled upcourt. She found Satyra Scott on the break for a bucket a couple seconds before the buzzer and the Kats led 9-2 at the first stop.

"Paint touches are big for us," Peckinpaugh said. "If we get paint touches, everything else opens up. If we run it through Aijia, we're going to be pretty successful."

In the second quarter, things opened up offensively for the Kats and shots fell. Elliott scored three baskets inside, McClain hit two 3-pointers and Amara Stroman swished two more treys. The Kats cruised into the halftime break up 30-11.

Elliott had 11 points at halftime and went on to post game-highs of 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. McClain scored 10 points and took seven boards. Stroman scored nine points — all on swished 3-pointers — and Aviannah Pollard added five points. And Kamaria White took the lead in feeding the post, finishing with seven assists.

"I told them if you get paint touches and you're open for a 3, you've got to shoot it, and finally we're starting to hit some at the right time so I'm pretty happy about that," Peckinpaugh said.

On the other side, the Kats held Logan to a frustrating night from the field. The Berries hit 6 of 42 shots.

"As we went into halftime I said I couldn't really fault our defense, we did everything we probably could do defensively, but 3 of 22 [shooting] is not going to win you a lot of ball games and keep you in games most of the time," Logan coach Chris Keisling said. "I think we shot 13 percent the first half and didn't get any better the second half. That was probably the biggest thing is that sooner or later you've got to drop some buckets."

Lydia Goad, Logan's only senior, led the Berries with eight points. Aracyn Good grabbed four rebounds.

The Kats now take a 15-9 record into Friday's second semifinal against McCutcheon, which had a bye. Harrison beat Marion 71-29 in Tuesday's opener and faces Lafayette Jeff Friday in the first semifinal at 6 p.m.

Peckinpaugh said the win "definitely gives us some confidence. It's nice that we don't have the bye and we can finally try to get these jitters out the first game. But I think that once we came out and started to play our basketball, we started to play really well, so I'm excited for Friday.

"I'm just proud of how hard the girls work. Every girl that went in that game knew the scouting report and knew what they were supposed to do and played well."