Photos by Goad Sports Media
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Kokomo Lady Wildkats fans could be forgiven for thinking the team's IHSAA Sectional opener wouldn't be much of a challenge. Kokomo entered the contest at 14-9, while their opponents, the Logansport Berries, sat at 4-18.
When the dust cleared on Jan. 30, the Lady Kats met expectations with a 55-22 dismantling of the Berries.
The lead architects of the victory were senior post Aijia Elliott and playmaking junior Regan McClain, though the entire team put in a playoffs-level effort. Eleven of the 12 Lady Kats to take the court found the basket.
Elliott was the star of the night, leading the field with 17 points on six of eight shooting from the floor and a serviceable five of eight from the charity stripe. She dominated under the basket as well, nabbing 10 rebounds and swatting away four shots.
McClain's effort was vital to Kokomo's success. She put in 10 points with a mix of short- and long-range shooting and success from the foul line. She was no slouch defensively, either, taking in seven rebounds while denying a pair of Logansport shots.
Sophomore Amara Stroman played well in support of her teammates' strong shooting. She drained a trio of shots from beyond the arc for nine points on the night. And sophomore Eliana Stewart hauled in six rebounds in just 10 minutes of play.
Most of the fireworks took place in the game's second quarter. The Lady Kats let Logan stay close in the first as they found their footing. They then exploded for 21 points in the second, pushing the game out of reach before the Gatorade got properly chilled.
The team faces an uphill climb through the rest of the tournament. Though the women have produced moderate success throughout the season, they managed to defeat only two teams with a winning record (Blackford, Triton Central).
By the same token, they didn't suffer a single upset. Teams that bested Kokomo amassed a combined 154-52 record. Those the Lady Kats defeated were 87-233 in total.
Kokomo (15-9) hosts McCutcheon (19-4) tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Gymnasium. It will be a true test for the team, as they dropped their game at McCutcheon on Dec. 8 by a score of 67-52.
Playing at home should give the Lady Kats a boost, but they will need to corral the North Central Conference champs and their superstar freshman Lillie Graves, who is averaging 22.3 points per game for the Mavericks. She scored 24 against the Kats in December.