KOKOMO, Ind. — A team that was a state finalist a year ago. The bulk of that lineup returning this season. And an Indiana All-Star/Mr. Basketball candidate in the lineup.
Not the exact prescription if your team is trying to end a four-game losing streak.
Class 4A No. 7 Kokomo sent Anderson’s Indians to their fifth straight defeat, a 74-50 decision at Memorial Gymnasium on Friday. The loss was Anderson’s second in North Central Conference play this season.
With five straight defeats staring the Indians in their collective face, Anderson is left with just one alternative if it is to change its fortunes: Get better.
“We just got to get better,” first-year AHS head coach Joe Nadaline said. “We’re trying to hang in there and get better. This team has got to find a way to win games. We struggled last year to find a way to win, and we’re struggling a little this year. They’re the only ones that can do it. (Coaches) can’t do it for them. When they step on the floor they have to want to be ready to win.”
After being tied 2-2, the Wildkats never trailed. Kokomo used a 10-0 run to build a 20-11 lead by the end of the first period.
Anderson would pull within two possessions of Kokomo on multiple occasions throughout the game, but Kats senior D.J. Balentine’s long-range shooting put down any possibility of the Indians getting closer to Kokomo.
Balentine led all scorers with 26 points on 6 of 13 shooting from the floor, including a 5 of 9 shooting performance from 3-point range.
“D.J. is a great player and he’s a great leader,” Nadaline said. “That showed when we made a run or two at them and he took over. Really great players do that.”
Anderson stayed within 10 points or fewer of Kokomo for the majority of the game. Things got away from the Indians in the fourth quarter when Anderson was shooting through passing lanes trying to steal the ball and couldn’t come up with it. The Kats outscored the Indians 20-6 in the final frame.
“I think it was like the Pendleton game — it got away from us late,” Nadaline said. “We had way too many turnovers and we didn’t block out tonight, especially on the defensive end. We gave up way too many offensive rebounds (to Kokomo).”
Anderson threw the ball away 20 times and was outrebounded by the Kats 29-22. Kokomo collected 18 boards on the offensive end for extra possessions.
Anderson was led by the 17 points and eight rebounds from junior forward Trey Boyd. Terrance Johnson was also in double digits with 10 points for the Indians.
Joining Balentine in double figures for the Kats was Jalen Tinder with 16 points and LaBradford Sebree with 13 points.
Anderson (6-8, 1-2 NCC) will travel to Indianapolis Tech tonight for a 7:30 p.m. tip with the Titans.