ZIONSVILLE – So far on the season Zionsville’s boys basketball team has had a tendency to struggle somewhat out of the gate, but that was not the case on Friday night at home against Kokomo.
The Eagles raced out to a 21-7 lead after one quarter and eventually led by as much as 19 in the first half before coasting to a 58-46 win over the visiting Wildkats.
“Our start tonight was probably our best start of the year on both ends,” said Zionsville coach Shaun Busick. “We locked them down defensively and then on offense we really moved the ball well. Because we got up so much early on I think we got a little complacent and Kokomo kept playing hard. I like how they play and I think they are on the verge of a breakthrough.”
Ben Weidner was key for Zionsville’s hot start against Kokomo. He scored Zionsville’s first seven points as the Eagles hit on nine of their 12 field goal attempts in the first quarter.
They forced Kokomo into three early timeouts.
The Eagles eventually pushed the lead to 31-12 with 3:24 to go before halftime thanks to offensive balance. A total of seven different players scored during the hot start and Ziosnville appeared to be in full control just over 12 minutes into the game.
“Part of or problem is we have to get our head in the huddle more and out of the crowd,” said Kokomo coach Bob Wonnell of his team’s slow start. “We’ve just got to be less selfish. That’s what it boils down to. “We do have a great group of kids and we have played with some heavy hitters like Zionsville, Warsaw, South Bend Adams, and Marion for 20 minutes, but then the ‘disease of me’ creeps into our existence and we can’t get it done.”
Kokomo was able to make a run and get back into it by scoring the final 10 points of the first half. Bobby Wonnell connected on a pair of three-pointers and R.J. Oglesby scored twice inside and the Wildkats (4-7) were able to cut the lead to 31-22 by halftime.
Oglesby then scored again early in the third to make it a 12-0 run and Kokomo had a few possessions to get closer, but the Zionsville defense kept them at bay.
“Our defense can get frustrating, especially if we get patient, so we try to be patient on both ends,” said Busick. “When we are patient, good things happen. We win with great defense, hit free throws, and by moving the ball this year. When we do those things, we do well.”
After Kokomo cut the lead to seven Anthony Scales broke the run by getting to the free throw line. His two free throws with 5:22 left in the third started an 8-0 run for Zionsville (7-4) and gave the hosts some breathing room.
Zionsville was able to close the game out thanks to a continued strong effort from Weidner. The senior guard scored nine points in the final four minutes and finished with a game high 22 as Kokomo was never able to get the lead under 10 again following the 8-0 third quarter run.
Zionsville also got 13 points Scales while Jackson Hughes had 9 points and 7 rebounds.
The Eagles were back in action Saturday afternoon, when they travel to Marion to face Fort Wayne Snider.
The Eagles lost 48-42.
Zionsville led by five at the half, but Snider cut that to one by the end of the third quarter.
Snider took a 40-39 lead with 3:03 to play, and the Eagles were out-scored 8-3 in the final stretch.
Weidner led the Eagles with 17 points, with Anthony Scales chipping in 13.
Jackson Hughes had six points.
The Eagles have just one game this week, as they host Brebeuf on Friday night.
This is the 15th-straight year the two teams have played. Zionsville leads the series 10-4, but seven of the games have been decided in overtime or by two points or less.