YOUNG LADY KATFISH SQUAD READY TO HIT POOL

Kokomo HS Wildkat

Keep an eye on our Lady Katfish this season.  Exciting things are happening at the pool.  Our girls are working very hard.  We are a very young team with 15 under classmen this season.  We will be led by our four returning seniors, Autumn Carroll, Katie Harbaugh, Amy Laubenstein and Ashley Clifford.  Newcomer senior, Kristen Erny, has helped to add great leadership to our team.

Our underclassmen are letting every lady know they are here to compete and want many of the open spots left by our graduating seniors from last season.  As we head into our first meet against Western I am not sure yet where everyone will fit into our lineup.  Not only are these ladies working hard, they are all very coachable and making a commitment to each other.  These are great gals and I am very lucky to get to spend this season with them.

Freshmen, Morgan Reecer, will definitely make an impact this season.  She will likely fill the distance spots in the line-up.  She is backed by Hayden Phipps, Brittany Lucas and Emily Ogle.  We will try these ladies in various spots to find where they best fit in to help garner points for the ladies.

Our sophomores will be led by returning veterans Jessica Estep, Brooke Dill, Ann Stahl, Hannah Sexton, Aditi Sood, Lucy Mavrick, and Abbie OKeefe.  Joining the sophomore veterans this season are newcomer Osha Hall who will definitely make an impact as our only diver this season.  Swimming their first varsity season as sophomores are Naomi Leuck, Emily Hafley, and Britney Achors.  Our sophomore class brings a lot of off season training and we will look to them to fill some high point earning spots in our line-up.

All of our juniors saw conference and sectional action last season so they are ready to hit the water with a splash.  We are very excited to have Briana Ebenhart, Abigail Hammel, and Micah Jackson back this season.  Two of these gals have pretty definite line-up spots.  We will look to Briana to backstroke and Abigail to butterfly this season.  Micah will get to fill freestyle spots.

Seniors, Katie Harbaugh and Autumn Carroll can swim anything on the roster.  These gals have shown great versatility and leadership for 4 years with our program.  I can count on them to swim anything and gain points for the team.  They will be supported by breaststroker, Amy Laubenstein, newcomer Kristen Erny and Ashley Clifford.

I am thankful to add freshman, Chardonnay Clark as our manager.  Chardonnay is willing to assist in any way she can and is learning the ropes in the pool quite quickly.  We also have Ms. Hicks helping us when she can.  She will be a blessing to have around.  Our diving coach expert, Amanda Huston, will lead our only diver Osha Hall this season as she prepares her 6 and 11 dive lists for competition.

Keep an eye on our ladies and watch for BIG time drops this season!  Come watch us in our opening meet against Western, Tuesday Nov 18th at 5:30pm.

Courtesy of head coach Donita Walters

IU KOKOMO WOMEN DOWN WILBERFORCE FOR HISTORIC FIRST PROGRAM VICTORY

Hope Wagner, shown in the Cougars first home game, scored 18 points in the program first win at Wilberforce University. (Photo by Thomas Birch/Kokomo Herald)

Hope Wagner, shown in the Cougars first home game, scored 18 points in the program first win at Wilberforce University. (Photo by Thomas Birch/Kokomo Herald)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

WILBERFORCE, Ohio – With 11 freshman and one junior on the roster of its inaugural squad, most understood wins would come at a premium this year for the IU Kokomo women’s basketball team. But the inexperienced squad worked hard in the preseason, and the work paid off as the Cougars earned the program’s first-ever victory in just its second game. In a tough road contest, the Cougars downed Wilberforce University with a come-from-behind 68-63 victory.

“This is huge for our kids, especially coming on the road,” said IU Kokomo coach Whitney Farris, who also notched her first win as a college head coach. “This isn’t the ideal situation for an NAIA start – getting up early, a three hour road trip and then getting out of the van to play. But it was perfect for us, we just played our game. I am extremely proud of them.”

Trailing 33-27 at halftime, the young Cougars struggled in the second half, going more than seven minutes without a field goal. The Bulldogs were not shooting much better, but did increase its lead to as many as 16 before IUK got hot – red hot. Junior transfer Hope Wagner hit three consecutive 3-pointers to ignite the rally.

“I figured I had to do something,” said Wagner, who averaged nearly 20 points per game at Ancilla last season. “I finally came out of my drought. It is my role to hit my shots and I finally did. This win is awesome; it feels great.”

Trailing 63-61, Tipton’s Lela Crawford took a baseline pass and drained a triple from the deep corner with 58 seconds left to give IU Kokomo the lead. Wilberforce tied the game at 63, but Wagner answered with her fifth 3-pointer of the second half with 7.8 seconds left. Crawford sealed the win with a pair of free throws in the final seconds.

“Coach told me that I had to play as hard as I could for the last minute and a half,” said Crawford of her late game heroics. “I just wanted to make her proud. I had confidence I would hit that shot.”

Farris concurred, saying she knew it was going in, “because I was standing right behind her when she shot it. I knew it was good.”

The Cougars lost its opening game 51-40 earlier in the week, but came back after trailing by as many as 20. Farris said that game helped the squad when it found itself down to Wilberforce.

“We were right in both games at half time, but wobbled a little in the second half,” said Farris. “I think having that experience in the first game, and knowing we came back, helped us today. And today we finished it. This win will go a long way for us.”

The Cougars scorched the nets with 13 3-point baskets, including eight in the second half. After 24 turnovers in its opener, the Cougars controlled the ball with only 12 against Wilberforce.

“We needed to focus on rebounding and taking care of the ball,” said Farris. “We had 15 turnovers in the first half of the first game, and we had 12 tonight. I am proud of the way the stepped up.”

Wagner led the Cougars with 18 points while Crawford closed with 17. Nevada Jones scored 11 while running the point. Dejianna Butler and Deja Felder each dropped in six points. Kokomo graduate Alanis Jones and Whitney Williamson had four points and Tabitha Dewitt rounded out the scoring with two points.

Jasmine Johnson led Wilberforce with 20 points. Kendra Moss had 19 and Chanel Davis dropped in 12.

IU Kokomo (1-1) returns to action on Nov. 18 when they travel to Evansville to battle Oakland City University. The return to the city of Wilberforce on Nov. 20 to play Central State University. The Cougars return home on Nov. 24 to face Andrews University at 5 p.m.

COUGAR GYM SOLD OUT FOR WOMEN’S HOOPS DEBUT, MEN FALL IN OPENING NIGHT THRILLER

Indiana University Kokomo Cougars

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – In basketball crazy Kokomo, it was only fitting that nearly 500 basketball fans crowded into Cougar Gym for the inaugural game of the Indiana University Kokomo women’s basketball program. And despite a 51-40 loss to Ohio Christian University, the Cougars showed grit and hustle – characteristics not everyone in the sold-out gym thought they would see with a first-year team made up of 11 freshmen and a junior.

“Yes we had a lot of turnovers (24). Yes, we missed a lot of shots (37). But we just kept grinding and playing hard,” said IUK women’s head coach Whitney Farris. “I am so appreciative of that. Nerves got in the way tonight, but we are basically a freshman team and I am just proud.

“And that crowd – we didn’t even have this many people at my games when I played at Valparaiso (University).”

Both the Cougars and Trailblazers showed early season jitters in an electrified building. It took only took one minute and 30 seconds for Lela Crawford, a freshman from Tipton High School, to score the first official points in IUK women’s basketball history. And a short 45 second later, the Cougars had its first lead. But buckets were hard to come-by in the early going and midway through the half Ohio Christian held a 7-6 lead.

The Trailblazers warmed up in the second 10 minutes, stretching its lead to 29-16 at intermission. The cold-shooting Cougars hit just 6 of 25 shots (1 of 12 from 3-point range) in the first half, with Nevada Jones (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) leading the way with six points and the squads only 3-pointer of the game.

Ohio Christian came out in the second half on fire, increasing its lead to 20 in the first 93 seconds. But the Cougars showed poise and never gave up, chipping away at the lead and trimming it to 10 points late in the game. A bright spot for the young program was it outscored its opponents in the second half 24-22.

“This is a game to grow from,” said Farris. “We will look at the game films and gain needed experience from tonight. We showed a lot of positives and I thought our defense played great.”

Nevada Jones and Whitney Williamson (Nashville, Ind./Brown County) lead the Cougars with nine points each, with Williamson grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds. Crawford tossed in six points and grabbed nine rebounds. Dejianna Butler (Evansville, Ind./Bosse), Hope Wagner (Knox, Ind./Ancilla College) and Alanis Jones (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo) each had six points.

IU Kokomo men fall in thriller

The Cougar men also opened its home portion of the 2014-2015 schedule, falling to Trinity Christian University 75-70. Cold Cougar shooting and missed rebound opportunities down the stretch spelled doom for the improved squad.

“Unfortunately, we lost one of the battles that you just can’t afford to lose – offensive rebounds (16-7),” said IUK men’s head coach Jace Thompson. “We put ourselves in a hole and just couldn’t battle all of the way back.”

Senior leadership kept the Cougars in the game early as a pair of Blue River Valley graduates started strong. Aaron Knupp scored the Cougars first points on a 3-pointer to give IU Kokomo an early lead, and with assistance from Jared Lawrence, the squad stayed close with eight first half lead changes. A late run by the Trolls allowed the visitors to take a 39-34 lead into the locker room.

“Senior leadership was key,” said Thompson. “We had senior leaders who stepped up and hit the baskets we expected of them. Aaron always seems to take the right shot at the right time and Jared is slasher who gets things done.”

Kokomo came out ice cold in the second half, going the first eight-plus minutes without a field goal. That allowed Trinity Christian to increase its lead by 14. But just when the Trolls through they had an easy victory, Kokomo came back thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from Nick Teeter (Berne, Ind./South Adams), another triple from Knupp and solid free throw shooting from Jerome Campbell (Indianapolis, Ind./Arsenal Tech). But with the lead cut to one in the final minute, the Cougars twice missed rebounds on Trinity free throws, allowing the visitors to run the clock out.

“You can’t give up offensive boards, especially five at the free throw line,” said Thompson. “That hurts you big time. We had them backpedaling; that is a momentum killer giving up the offensive boards.”

Knupp led the Cougars with 15 points while Campbell added 12 and a game-high eight rebounds. Lawrence had nine points; Micah Pier (Bunker Hill, Ind./Maconaquah), Teeter, Randall Lowe (Pittsboro, Ind./Tri-West) and Zac Rea (Cambridge City, Ind./IU South Bend) each had eight.

Both squads hit the road for its next game in a Nov. 7 doubleheader against Wilberforce University near Dayton, Ohio. The IUK women (0-1) take the court at 1 p.m. while the Cougar men (1-2) follow at 3 p.m.