Kokomo’s boys basketball team had plenty of reasons to feel good Saturday night.
The Class 4A No. 9 Wildkats beat Lafayette Jeff 45-35 at Memorial Gym to complete a weekend sweep of a pair of Lafayette Sectional opponents, improve to 6-0 overall and extend their homecourt winning streak to 18 games. In addition, the Kats received a visit from Hall of Fame coach Basil Mawbey after the game.
Mawbey, who led Kokomo to a state runner-up finish in 1989 and took Connersville (1983) and Lewis Cass (2003, Class 2A) to state titles, was recognized at halftime.
Mawbey told the Kats that he liked what he saw.
“That was great,” Kokomo swingman LaBradford Sebree said. “Coach Mawbey coached my dad (Brad, a 1990 Kokomo graduate). He was telling us we have the potential to be another state team because we have everything it takes. We just need to keep our focus.”
Kokomo threatened to blow out Jeff, jumping to a quick 7-0 advantage and going on to lead 15-5 after the opening quarter, 23-13 at halftime, 31-15 midway through the third quarter and 38-23 early in the fourth quarter. But the Bronchos followed with an 8-0 run to draw within 38-31 with 5:01 left.
The Bronchos (3-5) had chances to draw closer, but failed to take advantage. Sebree then took control, snapping the Kats out of their brief funk. He scored six points over a 78-second stretch to give the Kats a 44-33 lead with 1:06 remaining.
“Being a senior, when other teams make a run, I feel like it’s a little bit of my place to kind of counteract it and stop it and just lead my team,” Sebree said.
Kokomo coach Brian McCauley called it a “grind-out win” and pointed to the Kats’ defense as the key. Kokomo held Jeff to 34.4 percent shooting from the field and forced the Bronchos into 18 turnovers.
“This time of year, you really have to be tough to defend well, and I think we’ve put together some good defensive games,” McCauley said.
Jeff coach Scott Radeker lamented the Bronchos’ turnovers.
“I liked the way our kids battled and hung around. We didn’t give in to them. It’s just too many turnovers. Some were forced by them, but there were some where we just threw the ball at our guy’s feet and nobody was guarding us,” Radeker said, noting the Bronchos also had costly turnovers against Noblesville on Friday night. “Until we learn to have a little more focus and a little more concentration to make a fundamental play, then we’re not going to be able to win games like this.
“I was happy with our effort defensively. We took four or five charges, which is great for our squad. So, there were some positives. Just really disappointed in our offensive execution.”
Sebree led the Kats with 14 points and six rebounds.
Quarin Hood led the Bronchos with 12 points.