Kokomo loses heartbreaker to Jeff
Bronchos roar back after digging 11-point hole in second half.
By PEDRO VELAZCO- Tribune sportswriter
Kokomo boys basketball coach Brian McCauley rattled off a string of positives from Saturday night’s home game against Lafayette Jeff. He pointed to opening a double-digit lead in the third quarter, the good contributions of several individuals and a solid defensive effort against a high-scoring Broncho squad. Then he put those things into perspective:
“All those are consolation prizes,” McCauley said.
He acknowledged the good things, but was in no mood for a moral victory after the Wildkats lost 66-64 in a barnburner to a former North Central Conference rival.
Kokomo held an 11-point lead, 41-30, in the third quarter and had all the momentum after a couple big 3-pointers by Colton Summers. After a Jeff bucket, things seemingly got even better for the Kats at a timeout with 3:43 to play. An agitated Jeff coach Scot Bunnell got in the ear of star guard Jesse Berry during the timeout and sent the junior to the lockerroom without a single point. Berry, usually a starter, had earlier been benched for the first quarter.
The game then turned, but not in Kokomo’s favor. Jeff finished the quarter on an 11-3 run, then closed the gap in the fourth quarter to emerge with the victory.
“We had a lot of chances to finish that and we just didn’t have the poise that we needed, or the execution,” McCauley said. “That’s something we’ve got to get better at, and we can get better at.”
Kokomo (2-3) committed 13 turnovers in the second half and 20 for the game. Jeff had just five.
Behind disruptive pressure defense and great offensive rebounding, Jeff (6-2) kept pecking away at Kokomo’s lead and finally took its first advantage of the second half on a transition bucket by Roddy Richardson after a Kat turnover to make the score 52-51 Jeff with 4:28 to play. The lead changed hands four more times, and was tied twice, before Jeff got the edge in the final minute.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Bunnell said. “It was just battling and fighting at the end. I think the biggest thing was for 32 minutes, we fought and battled and when it became winning time, we made winning plays down the stretch.”
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