Kokomo bounced in Hall of Fame Classic

Written on 01/05/2024
Goad Sports Media

The Kokomo Wildkats traveled to Indianapolis on Dec. 30 to compete in the IHSAA Hall of Fame Classic. Then ranked eighth in their class, the team fell to the Indianapolis Crispus Attucks Tigers, 69-59, in the opening round of the tournament.

The Kats were led by a solid performance from their big man, Flory Bidunga. The University of Kansas recruit led the team with 16 points, six rebounds, and five blocked shots.

He was joined on the leaderboards by junior guard Zion Bellamy, who contributed 12 points, five assists, and a pair of steals. Senior forward Karson Rogers also found double digits with 10 points and nine rebounds.

The game started out rough, as Kokomo was held to just three field goals in the first quarter while Crispus Attucks built a 19-9 lead. The Tigers then reeled off a 10-0 run to start the second, putting the Wildkats in a deep hole.

Kokomo answered with 14 unanswered points of their own, closing to within six points of the lead. That margin remained heading into halftime.

After the break, Kokomo came out strong. A three-pointer and two field goals gave the Wildkats their first lead of the night, 34-33. The two teams traded blows across the third quarter, exchanging the lead with nearly every possession, and the Wildkats clung to a one-point margin heading into the fourth, 44-43.

Unfortunately, Crispus Attucks got hot as the final stanza began, sprinting ahead with a 14-1 run. Down 57-45 with less than four minutes to play, Kokomo tried to close the gap. The Kats to within eight, leading to a timeout from Crispus Attucks with about a minute left to play.

Amazingly, the two teams unleashed a flood of scoring as Kokomo tried to conserve time by sending Crispus Attucks to the charity stripe. The Wildkats sank three shots in that final minute or so, and the Tigers hit four, with both teams heading to the foul line in the physical exchange.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Wildkats fell short and were relegated to the consolation game that night against Brownsburg. Crispus Attucks went on to win the Hall of Fame Classic by downing Brownstown Central in the championship game.

See more photos from this game, along with coverage of Kokomo’s consolation game and shots of the cheer squad by visiting the Lantern’s Facebook page or group.