KOKOMO — At halftime Thursday night, nothing separated Kokomo and Logansport in their North Central Conference boys basketball game in Memorial Gym.
The game was tied at 33-all. Eventually, something had to give. Tayler Persons and Kokomo forced the game to go their way in the second half and snagged a 74-54 victory, the Kats’ sixth straight.
“Halftime, I knew it was a close game. They were hitting some tough shots,” said Persons, who scored 17 points after halftime, including his 1,000th career point with his final basket in the fourth quarter. “My mindset at halftime was I have to take this game over for the team, they needed it. I gave them a spark and we just ran with it.”
Persons hit a 3-pointer and seconds later took a steal in for a layup to give the Kats a 46-45 lead in the third quarter. That turned out to be the final lead change of the game.
“He’s definitely a manchild out there and obviously a kid that’s played a lot of basketball and a very good player, and in my opinion he has a great supporting cast around him,” Logansport coach Pat Skaggs said.
Starting with Persons’ five-point swing, the Wildkats (11-6, 3-2 NCC) went on a 17-0 run spanning mid third quarter to mid fourth quarter to take control. Mykal Cox hit a 3-pointer and Persons had a hoop-and-harm 3-point play in transition to close the fourth. Erik Bowen scored a free throw and a bucket off offensive rebounds to start the fourth quarter and the Kats were off and running with a 55-45 lead.
“I think that’s our strongpoint of our team, our emotion and the way we feed off each other,” Persons said of Kokomo’s second-half surge. “Once we get going like that, it’s really tough to beat us and they couldn’t match up with the intensity.”
Kokomo’s defensive intensity rose at that point and Logansport (9-5, 1-4 NCC) didn’t get as many good, patient looks at the basket after that.
“I thought they got some transition baskets on us that really hurt us,” Pat Skaggs said.
“With about seven minutes to go, I think we’re still down seven. We got a little impatient at times. Kokomo’s a solid team with a bunch of seniors. I was proud of our guys, I thought we battled, but unfortunately the game’s not two-and-a-half or three quarters, it’s four quarters and they kicked our fanny in the fourth quarter.”
Kokomo limited Logansport to 8 of 29 shooting in the second half after Logan blistered the nets with 12-of-19 firing in the first half.
“We got some easy scores which gave us about a six- or seven-point cushion, and then also fatigue I thought set in for Logansport,” Kokomo coach Brian McCauley said. “Our guys, they had great defensive energy and awareness in the second half. There was just a little bit more of an edge to us in the second half I felt, and that was the difference.”
Carter Skaggs led Logan with 20 points and 11 rebounsd. A.J. Smith added a dozen points and Matt Jennings 11. Carter Skaggs and Smith were particularly hot in the first half as the two combined to hit 9 of 12 shots including 6 of 8 from 3-point land.
Persons finished with 27 points to lead Kokomo, Demarius Warren added 19 points and Erik Bowen had 13 points and 12 rebounds, including six offensive caroms. Bowen had a series of big hoops including a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second quarter, and a fade-away turning jumper to close the half and tie the game.
“They just have a lot more experience and size and strength, probably one of the most physical teams we’ll play, and obviously that showed,” Pat Skaggs said.