After finishing fifth in the North Central Conference with a record of 9-10, two LadyKats have been named to all-conference teams under Head Coach Haley Cook Peckinpaugh’s inaugural season at the helm.
Junior Chloe McClain was named to first-team all-NCC after averaging 14 points per game, with five rebounds and just under three assists and three steals per game. Freshman Aijia Elliott made second-team all-conference averaging 10 points and six rebounds per game and shooting 51 percent from the field. After a rocky but promising first season, Peckinpaugh said she’s got nothing but pride for all of her players.
“There was a lot of outside noise this year with COVID, but the Kokomo LadyKats made the best of every opportunity. It was a crazy year for sports all around the country, but that didn’t stop our girls from working hard every day to reach our goals. As a team, we more than doubled the amount of wins from the last year, outscored our opponents in total for the year and developed a culture that is unmatched,” Peckinpaugh said.
McClain has emerged as one of the top leaders on the team, and Peckinpaugh credited her work ethic and persistence to get better in practice and on game days, bringing high-level energy to every event.
As the team’s leading scorer, the LadyKats often looked to her to be a spark for the team. Peckinpaugh said she was proud of McClain but not surprised.
Getting these accolades with still another year left for McClain at Kokomo is a reassuring element to Peckinpaugh who continues to build the program. McClain’s consistency will be relied on during the offseason and all of next year, she said.
“Chloe comes to practice every day willing to get better and pushing her teammates to be the best they can be. I am not surprised that Chloe was named to First-Team All-Conference because she is the type of player that will give her all and make everyone around her better. She is more than deserving of this award, and she will continue to work in the off-season to prepare for her senior year,” she said.
As for Elliott, getting on an all-conference team in her first year with the program shows the team is heading in the right direction for years to come.
Having already doubled the number of wins secured last season, with Elliott in the lineup, the LadyKats are sure to keep ascending for years to come. Peckinpaugh said she knew she was capable of this accomplishment, but there’s much more in the cards for Elliott.
“She has made huge strides this year as a player, and she will continue to develop in the spring and summer,” Peckinpaugh said. “Second-Team all-NCC is a great accomplishment for Aijia, but I know she won’t stop here. First-Team all-NCC is the goal for next year, and we as coaches know she will do what it takes to get there.”
Kokomo girls’ basketball is here to stay, she said, and Peckinpaugh can’t wait to continue to build on the early success of her first season.
At the beginning of the season, Peckinpaugh said the main aspect she’d focus on was giving the girls confidence to come in and get better each day. The team just needed a coach to step in and believe in them, she said, and after a promising start, the community is starting to rally around Peckinpaugh and the team.
“This group of girls have finally put Kokomo Girls Basketball back on the map, and that is all because of their hard work and dedication to this program. I am forever grateful for this group and can’t wait to get back in the gym with them soon,” she said.