Kokomo’s boys basketball team punched their ticket to the state championship game with a thrilling 58-57 victory over Penn in the Class 4A North Semistate championship on Saturday night.
The game was a back-and-forth battle with 12 ties and four lead changes. Kokomo’s defense came up big when it mattered most, and Karson Rogers’ block on Dylan Fey’s shot from behind helped seal the win for the Kats. Shayne Spear hit two free throws in the closing seconds to clinch the victory.
Senior forward Patrick Hardimon played a pivotal role in defending Penn guard Markus Burton. Burton finished with 27 points, but Hardimon held him to just 10 points in the second half. Hardimon commented on his defensive performance, saying, “People were telling me, ‘You can’t guard him,’ but I guarded him. It was a good game.”
Kokomo will face No. 1-ranked Ben Davis in the Class 4A state championship game next Saturday. The Kats lost to Ben Davis earlier in the season, but they played that game without Spear. Coach John Peckinpaugh said, “We have to finish it. I’m excited to see how we play against Ben Davis.”
Flory Bidunga led the Kats with 25 points and 22 rebounds, his 50th double-double in 55 career games. He also blocked five shots. Bidunga’s strong performance on both ends of the court played a crucial role in the victory. The Kats also did an excellent job making Burton take tough shots, which limited his scoring opportunities. With their strong defense and Bidunga’s dominant performance, the Kats secured their ninth all-time semistate title and will look to add a state championship to their trophy case.