Archive for November 29, 2011



Nicole Rogers drives to the hole against Northwestern. (SJ Photo: WILLIAM GIBSON)

(Courtesy of the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association)

Wawasee junior Jake Thompson, Pendleton Heights senior Kellen Dunham, North Harrison sophomore Cory Smith, Greenwood Christian senior Kyle Stidom, Fort Wayne South junior Ariana Simmons, Western senior Nicole Rogers and Barr-Reeve senior Tya Harmon are IBCA/Pacers-Fever Players of the Week.

Thompson and Dunham were respective boys’ winners for Districts 1 and 2, while Smith and Stidom shared the boys’ District 3 honor. Simmons, Rogers and Harmon claimed girls’ accolades for Districts 1, 2 and 3, respectively. All were honored for performances from Nov. 21-26, 2011.

Simmons paced the Fort Wayne South girls to a 78-38 victory over Bellmont in their only game of the week. The 5-11 forward scored 19 of her game-high 25 points in the first half as the Archers improved to 3-1.

The 6-0 Rogers, an Indiana All-Star candidate and IUPUI recruit, totaled 24 points and 12 rebounds to propel Western to a 57-27 triumph over Northwestern. Her effort helped the Panthers move to 4-0 for first-year coach Chris Keisling. Rogers was a member of the Indiana Junior All-Star Team last summer and joined the Lady Panthers 1,000 Point Club during her junior season.

Harmon averaged 22.0 points in two games for Barr-Reeve. The 5-6 guard netted just eight points in a 42-32 season-opening win over Orleans. The next night, she scored 36 points on 12-of-23 shooting and 11-of-15 free throws with 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals in a 68-55 victory at Tecumseh.

Thompson, a 6-4 guard, was recognized after averaging 30.5 points in two games for the week. First, he netted 37 points in a 72-58 victory at Fairfield, hitting 12 of 25 shots and 11 of 14 free throws. Thompson followed with 24 points in a 79-36 win over Angola.

The 6-4 Dunham averaged 38.5 points in two games. The Butler recruit opened his season with a 40-point outburst in a 73-46 rout of Alexandria. He made 14 of 26 shots, including 5 of 14 from 3-point range, plus 7 of 7 free throws. Dunham then added 37 points on 13-of-26 shooting, 6-of-14 3-pointers and 5-of-5 free throws in a 54-40 win over Delta.

Smith netted 38 points in North Harrison’s only game of the week, a 75-54 win over South Central (Elizabeth) that snapped a 16-game losing streak. He made five 3-pointers while adding eight steals, five assists and three rebounds.

The 6-4 Stidom produced 37 points, 11 rebounds and six assists as Greenwood Christian knocked off defending Class A state champion Indianapolis Metropolitan 69-66. Stidom sank two free throws with two seconds left to account for the final margin.

This is the fourth season for the Pacers-Fever Players of the Week program coordinated through the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. Winners are chosen each week from each of the IHSAA’s three districts. Girls winners will be chosen from now through the week following March 3. Boys winners will be chosen from now through the week following March 24.


E.P. Severns, Jr., president of Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Kokomo, draws Western in the first position of the Old School Kokomo Sectional Tournament.


On Monday, approximately 100 players coaches, administrators and fans ate dinner at Whiskey Creek and watched as E.P. Severns, Jr. conducted the first-ever blind draw for the Inaugural Old School Sectional boys basketball tournament presented by the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Kokomo. Players and coaches from Eastern, Northwestern, Taylor, Western and Maconaquah have been on edge for months, wondering if they would draw mighty No. 3-ranked Kokomo in the first round, or perhaps have a shot at the upset in the championship game.

As the draw commenced, Severns drew Western out first, followed quickly by Eastern to complete the first match-up of the tourney. Taylor was drawn third and will face Northwestern in game two on the first night. That left Maconaquah and Kokomo to battle in the bye round on the second night of the tourney. So when the draw was done, for a Howard County team to meet the Kats, they will have to be the king of the county and hope Kokomo beats the Braves.

For those who are not familiar with this new event, Eastern, Taylor, Northwestern and Western will forgo the 2012 Howard County Boys Basketball Tournament and will join Maconaquah and Kokomo in the seven-game event to be played over the Christmas holiday season. These six schools competed in the Kokomo Sectional during the late 1960s and mid-1970s, and again from 1985 until class tournament play began in 1998.

Kokomo’s historic Memorial Gymnasium will serve as the host facility, with the first two games being played on Dec. 23, starting at 6 p.m. The second night of games will consist of three contests on Dec. 27, beginning at 4 p.m. The championship and consolation games will start at 6 p.m. on Dec. 28.

Severns, president of the local Coca-Cola Bottling Company, said he and his employees were honored to play a part in the historic event.

“Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Kokomo has a long history of involvement with the athletic programs of the school corporations in Howard County and the surrounding area,” Severns said. “We were approached by the athletic directors, and we were very flattered that they considered Coca-Cola as their first choice to be the signature sponsor of this event. We are pleased to partner with these school corporations in a basketball tournament that may be able to fill Memorial Gym once again.”

Tournament ticket books for all seven games are on sale at all participating schools, priced at $12. Single session tickets priced at $6 will be sold at Memorial Gymnasium on game nights. All-sports tickets will not be in use for the tournament. For more information, contact any participating local athletic office.




Game 1 – 6 p.m. – Western vs Eastern (Greentown)

Game 2 – 8 p.m. – Taylor vs Northwestern


Game 3 – 4 p.m. – Loser game 1 vs loser game 2

Game 4 – 6 p.m. – Winner game 1 vs winner game 2

Game 5 – 8 p.m. – Maconaquah vs Kokomo (bye game)


Game 6 – 6 p.m. – Winner game 3 vs loser game 5

Game 7 – 8 p.m. – CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – Winner game 4 vs winner game 5


Kokomo's D.J. Balentine hits one of his three 3-pointers against Western. (SJ Photo: WILLIAM GIBSON)


It had all of the makings of being a classic opener to the boys high school basketball season: Two ranked teams, a student-led charity challenge and nearly 3,500 spectators in historic Memorial Gymnasium. And for the first 24 minutes, it  lived up to its billing. But when the teams returned to the floor after halftime, it was all Kokomo as the Class 4A No. 3-ranked Wildkats soundly defeated Class 3A No. 13 Western 82-57.

The Panthers started strong and looked like they would give the Kats fits. After Kokomo took an early 5-2 lead on a D.J. Balentine 3-pointer, Quin Fields answered with his own triple and the Panthers raced to a 13-7 lead through the first quarter as four Western starters found the scoring column in the first eight minutes.

“We came out well in the first quarter and played very well defensively,” said Western head coach Andy Weaver. “But in the second quarter, we struggled defensively. We held D.J. to five points, which was good, but (Erik) Bowen played really well.”

The second quarter saw the defending Class 4A state runners-up gain their legs and composure. After Western stretched its lead to eight, Kokomo slowly chipped away behind the play of Bowen. The 6-5 sophomore started the junior varsity contest, where he played six minutes and did not score. But in the second quarter of the varsity game, he electrified a lackluster Kokomo offense by scoring seven points, including a long 3-pointer that seemed to turn the game in the Kats favor. By the time the halftime horn sounded, Kokomo was on a 21-11 run and held a 28-26 lead at the break.

“Erik did a great job, especially when we were struggling offensively in the first half,” said Kokomo head coach Brian McCauley. “He hit that three in the corner to keep it close. He did a good job in the middle and has a nice jump shot and good hands. He did a good job of giving us a boost. He even did a good job after he came back from a bloody nose.”

When Kokomo returned to the floor in the third quarter, they looked like a different team. Utilizing a stifling, quick defense, Kokomo forced four Western turnovers in the first 90 seconds – forcing Weaver to call a pair of timeouts in an effort to stop the bleeding. It didn’t work. For eight minutes, Kokomo pressed the Panthers, forcing 10 turnovers while outscoring Western 24-12 en route to a 52-38 lead after three quarters. For the game, Kokomo scored 28 points off 18 Panther turnovers.

“It turned very quickly at the start of the third quarter,” said Weaver. “We really struggled against their man run-and-jump press. They really turned that on. undamentally, you have to be sound against that. You can’t reverse dribble, and we probably reverse dribbled four or five times that resulted in turnovers.”

Kokomo didn’t slow down in the fourth stanza, lighting the nets for another 30 points. A tired Panther defense could not keep up with Indiana All-Star candidate Balentine, who hit a pair of triples and 13 points in the fourth period. Kokomo also didn’t hurt themselves from the line as they hit all eight fourth quarter free throws on a night that saw the Kats hit 17 of 19 overall – a vast improvement for a team that only hit 62-percent a year ago.

“Our guys stepped up with confidence, had good focus, and knocked down the free throws,” said McCauley. “We just have to make sure we go through the same routine.”

The Kats were led by the 22 points from Balentine. LaBradford Sebree added 18, Jalen Tinder 13 and tied with a game-high nine rebounds, Bowen 13 and Tayler Persons 10. For Western, Fields knocked home 15 points, Evan Warden 13 and Ben Constable scored 12 points and nine boards.

The Kats return to Memorial Gymnasium Saturday night, hosting Westfield for a 6 p.m. junior varsity start. Western is off this weekend.

NOTE: The Kokomo versus Western Sock Challenge, benefitting the Kokomo Rescue Mission, went to the Panthers. While Western scored the victory, the schools combined to collect more than 10,000 pairs of new socks for the local charity.