By Pedro Velazco
LOGANSPORT — Kokomo’s girls basketball team took the floor after halftime Friday night with a seven-point cushion and a taste for blood not yet evident through the first 16 minutes of its Class 4A Logansport Sectional semifinal against Marion.
Marion, nervous and rattled after an 11-turnover first half, stumbled with another turnover just three seconds after halftime.
The Kats turned that turnover into a post hoop by Alanis Jones. Marion turned the ball over again, and Kokomo responded with a triple from the left side by Brayana Fowler. When that bucket went through, Kokomo coach Jason Snyder let out a yell, and Marion coach Jerry Freshwater called timeout.
“That was a big turn,” Snyder said. “I kind of got overly excited with that, but that’s fun basketball — when they are within their rhythm and playing basketball as a team like that. We drew a defender, hit the open person, Bre Fowler stepped out to the open corner on that and comfortably stepped into her shot and knocked it down.”
Marion’s timeout didn’t help. The Wildkats smelled blood and attacked defensively like sharks, forcing seven straight turnovers and scoring off the first six for a 27-8 lead. Kokomo blew its lead up to 24 points by the end of the quarter and endured its own brutal stretch in the fourth quarter to advance with a 46-31 victory. The Kats face No. 4-ranked Logansport in the final at 7:30 tonight.
When the smoke cleared in the third, Kokomo had outscored Marion 18-1 in the frame for a 33-9 lead. That was after shutting out the Giants in a 10-0 opening quarter.
“We tried to change up the defenses throughout the night and we knew they’ve got three outstanding shooters and good solid post play, so we tried to extend [our pressure] out a little bit more so they couldn’t just get in and run their offense comfortably, and try to change [our defense] up so they didn’t know where we were coming from,” Snyder said. “Scoring 18 points [in the third quarter] allowed us to get into our press, which allowed us to continue to get points off of that.”
Jones led Kokomo (14-8) with 18 points and eight rebounds, both game highs. She was 10 of 12 from the line, including 6 of 8 in the fourth quarter.
“There’s so much attention put on Anastacia [Kirby] in the post, and she’s such an unselfish player, Alanis has been able to take advantage of it, and she has taken advantage of it,” Snyder said. “You’ve got to pay attention to Alanis. She’s a great slasher, strong with the ball. She was, at the end of the game, able to knock down free throws.”
Fowler scored all nine of her points in the decisive third quarter. She also finished with five steals.
Marion had 22 turnovers in the first three quarters. The Giants opened the fourth quarter on a 13-0 run but Kokomo’s lead never dropped below 11.
“It hurt me because we practice those things,” Freshwater said of his squad’s trouble handling the ball. “We knew Jason was going to jump at us, he was going to run and jump us and we didn’t get anybody in the middle to get that pass. We didn’t make the adjustments. I give Jason credit, he did the things he needed to do to rattle our guards, and it worked.”
Vironnica Drake led Marion (11-10) with 10 points.
Logansport beat Kokomo 62-34 in North Central Conference play on Nov. 17 at Kokomo. The Berries (23-1) won the league with a 7-0 record.
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