Senior Ben Harris has helped lead his Northwestern Tigers to a perfect 7-0 start to the season. (SJ photo/Dean Hockney)


KOKOMO, Ind. – For two seasons, all eyes have been on the Northwestern girls basketball program – and rightfully so after a state title and current No. 1 ranking. But ever-so quietly, boys head coach Jim Gish has his squad making noise once again with seven consecutive wins to start the season.

Last weekend, the Purple Tigers earned two victories, a 61-45 win at Maconaquah and an 84-30 victory at home against Elwood.

The Tigers have used a balanced one-two punch from junior Tayson Parker and senior Ben Harris during the streak. Against Maconaquah, Parker scored 23 points while Harris dropped in 18.

The following night against Elwood, it was Harris who led the way with 21 points while Parker dropped in 17. Harris had a strong first half against the Panthers, dropping in 16 points, including three 3-pointers in the second quarter. Against Maconaquah, he scored 14 points in the second quarter.

Northwestern also uses a strong, quick defense. The Braves turned the ball over 18 times while Elwood committed 25 turnovers. The defense is ranked 41st in the state with a 44.71 defensive average. The 17.43 points per game average margin of victory is 31st best in the state.

Hot starts to the season have become the normal for Northwestern; last year they were 5-0 before finishing as sectional runners-up (15-8) and the year before they were 4-0 to start a 13-8 campaign. The 7-0 start is the best for the Tigers since its regional runners-up season in 2007-2008 when the squad won its first 11 games and finished 22-3. During its 2007 state championship season, Northwestern won its first eight contests before setting a school record with 25 victories. The 7-0 record is tied for second best in the state to Delta’s 8-0 start. Northwestern is also one of 24 remaining undefeated teams in Indiana, joining fellow Howard County squad Eastern (5-0).

Now in his 15th season at Northwestern, Gish has a record of 212-109, and will look to add to the great start on the road at Frankfort (1-7) on Dec. 19 before taking the rest of the calendar year off. They will return to action in Hoosier Conference play on Jan. 4 when Hamilton Heights (5-3) visits.

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Tiffany Longworth courtesy of the Kokomo HS Sargaso

NEW CASTLE, Ind. – Tiffany Longworth’s name has been synonymous with girls basketball in Howard County for nearly three decades. The 1993 Kokomo High School graduate is still the all-time leading scorer in the county – for boys and girls. Already a member of the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame, Longworth’s name will now be etched on the highest pedestal in Hoosier Hysteria as a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

Loaded with basketball talent and tradition, the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame proudly announces its 2019 women’s induction class, to be honored at the 18th annual Women’s Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Joining Longworth will be Meridith (Sanders) Barone, West Lafayette 1988; Sheryl Bonsett, Scottsburg 1985; Kevin Brown, North Judson 1971; Lisa (Furlin) Burnison, Valparaiso 1992; Abby Conklin, Charlestown 1993; Beth (Morgan) Cunningham, Bloomington South 1993; Rod Fisher, Marion 1968; Pat Grimm, Center Grove 1967; Leslie Johnson, Fort Wayne Northrop 1993; Gena Stubbs, Broad Ripple 1985. The Indiana Fever Silver Medal Award will be presented to Lori Culler of Huntington University.

Longworth will forever be remembered in Kokomo as the leader of the famed back-to-back state championship Lady Wildkats squads in 1992 and 1993. In four seasons, the Lady Kats finished 94-7 while winning the two state titles and three North Central Conference crowns.

During her four-year varsity career, she averaged 20.0 points per game and finished with a school and county record 1,936 career points – records that still stand today. She also set KHS career records in field goals (687), free throws (371), assists (531) and steals (413); and single-season records in assists (162) and steals (149). She recorded the only triple-double in Kokomo girls basketball history and scored in double-figures in 91 career games. Her efforts earned her a spot on the 1993 Indiana All-Star team while also being named a Kodak All-American and Indiana First Team All-State.

She continued her amazing career at Penn State University, where she graduated as the program’s career leader in 3-point field goals made (175).  A member of teams that were 96-26, they won a Big Ten conference championship, two Big Ten tournament titles and reached the 1995 NCAA Sweet Sixteen. She was named a 1996 Big Ten All-Star and received the 1997 Robin Lombard Award.

Longworth still resides in Kokomo where she is the director of school counseling for Taylor High School.

The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 18th Annual Women’s Awards Banquet will be held on April 27, 2019. The day’s events will include a free reception at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame museum that afternoon and a banquet that evening at the Primo Banquet Hall in Indianapolis. Reservations are available online now or through mail order in early 2019. Call the Hall at (765) 529-1891, visit or email for more information.

Courtesy of the Sports Journal and the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame

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Tayson Parker dunks for the 3-0 Northwestern Tigers. (SJ photo/Randy Messner)


KOKOMO, Ind. – With the fall sports season now complete and the girls hoops season in full swing, it is time to focus on the start of the boys basketball season – and fireworks started on opening night in Russiaville. In the traditional season opener, Kokomo and Western squared off at the Richard R. Rea Gymnasium, and for only the eighth time in the 69-game series, the Panthers knocked off the Wildkats 53-47.

With a near full-house at Western – and two rocking student sections – the Panthers led 8-5 after one quarter and 21-18 at the break. After an even third stanza, Western secured the win with free throws. Kyle Sanders led Western with 17 points while Deonta Chamberlain had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds for Kokomo.

Unfortunately, the Panthers could not turn the win into a steak as it lost its next three contests in a busy first 11 days – dropping games to Lebanon (52-46), Northwestern (54-40) and Logansport (52-34).

Kokomo also dropped its next game 75-33 to Westfield – it marked the third-worst loss in the history of the Wildkats basketball program. They did rebound in game three with a 47-35 win at Peru. Kokomo will make its Memorial Gymnasium debut on Friday against North Central Conference foe McCutcheon.

Northwestern has started the season strong with three wins – Western, Madison-Grant (69-66) and Mississinewa (51-46). With a seasoned squad returning from last year’s 15-8 team – including junior all-state contender Tayson Parker and senior starters Logan Bowser and Ben Harris – coach Jim Gish and the Tigers should compete for a sectional title by season’s end.

Under second-year coach Jake Leicht, Taylor dropped its first two games (Frankton and Lewis Cass) before rebounding with a conference win at Tri-Central (54-47) and a home win against the Golden Eagles of Oak Hill (52-44). With single-digit wins the last two campaigns, Taylor is sitting in prime position to get back to a winning season.

After two consecutive eight-win seasons, Eastern is off to a strong start with a pair of road wins at Clinton Central (61-48) and Eastbrook (53-52). It was three short years ago that the Comets celebrated a sectional title – could one be on the horizon this year?

See the December 4 edition of the Sports Journal for complete boys basketball schedules and conference standings for Howard County teams.

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