BOYS BB: Bidunga, Kats overpower Generals in semistate semifinal

Mar. 18—MICHIGAN CITY — Kokomo's boys basketball team blasted Fort Wayne Wayne 73-51 in the Class 4A Michigan City Semistate's opening semifinal Saturday.

Kokomo star Flory Bidunga, the Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year, put on a show with 31 points, 19 rebounds, eight blocked shots, two assists and two steals. The 6-foot-10 junior, playing in his 54th career game, recorded his 49th career double-double.

In addition, he reached a milestone by joining the Kats' 1,000-point club.

"That's a big achievement and I did it so I'm excited," he said.

Bidunga's milestone basket came in fitting fashion — on a dunk. Thirteen seconds into the second half, on a inbound play near the basket, he rose to take a perfect lob pass from Zavion Bellamy and hammered it home.

Bidunga has more than 200 dunks in his Kat career.

"We have some conversation with my teammates. They say like, if I dunk they get hyped. I always dunk everything for them," he said.

Bidunga made 11 of 13 shots from the field — and an impressive 9 of 10 free-throw attempts.

"I've been working on that and just keep improving my game," he said. "We need those free throws so I know as a big man, I have to work on my free throws so that's what I did."

Bidunga came into the game shooting 57.9% from the line.

"Whenever he gets 10 attempts and goes 90%, it's almost impossible to guard him when he does that," Kokomo coach John Peckinpaugh said. "Our guys did a great job finding him. He's going to draw those fouls. He's playing with a lot of confidence from the line right now."

No. 5-ranked Kokomo (23-4) advances to play No. 2 Penn in the semistate final Saturday night. Penn beat No. 3 Hammond Central 108-70 in the second semifinal.

Kokomo scored the game's first four points and kept the lead the rest of the way. Bidunga had 12 points in the first quarter as the Kats built a 21-11 lead. Wayne briefly closed to within four in the second quarter, but Kokomo regained control and took a 31-21 advantage into halftime.

The Generals (21-5) once again closed to within four in the third quarter, 37-33 at 4:20, but the Kats' Reis Beard scored on a layup and hit a 3-pointer and Bidunga scored on a putback for a quick 7-0 run. Kokomo led 52-39 at the end of the quarter.

With Kokomo leading 54-43 early in the fourth quarter, Bidunga made 6 of 6 free throws in a 40-second stretch to push the lead to 17. As a team, the Kats made 11 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter.

Bidunga put the exclamation point on the win with a dunk at 1:43. He took a steal in the defensive halfcourt, dished to Bellamy, raced the court and Bellamy returned a perfect lob that Bidunga dunked for a 69-50 lead. He exited the game at that point.

The Kats backed Bidunga with balance. Shayne Spear had 16 points, Beard and Bellamy had seven apiece and Patrick Hardimon and Karson Rogers had six apiece.

The Kats had 18 assists on 26 made field goals. Hardimon had seven assists, Bellamy had four and Spear had three.

"We did a good job sharing the ball," Peckinpaugh said. "I still don't think we had great movement offensively, we have to be a lot better tonight because [the opponent] will be better defensively. But whenever you share it like that, we were really locked in to get paint touches, made us really good.

"And then defensively, to hold that team below 40% was a pretty special effort."

The Generals finished 20 of 56 (35.7%) with the Kats forcing them to make contested shots nearly throughout. Chase Barnes led Wayne with 14 points.

Bryan Gaskins is the Tribune's sports editor. He may be reached at bryan.gaskins@kokomotribune.com or 765-454-8567.