CHATSWORTH, Ga. — For the second straight game, the Polk County Wildcats battled an opponent down to the wire, but in the end came up just a point short, falling by the same tally.
After defeating Sonoraville (Ga.) 46-30 in the opening round of the 2nd annual Mistletoe Madness at North Murray High School, coach Rusty Brewer’s Wildcats pushed a 10-1 Gilmer County (Ga.) team to the brink before falling 48-47, the same tally they posted against Calhoun (Ga.) in Saturday’s third-place game.
Now 3-10 on the season, Polk County will return to the Peach State this weekend for the annual Battle of the States Tournament at Towns County High School in Hiawassee, Ga.
Both Benton squads will tangle with Union County (Ga.) in Thursday’s opening round with the girls squaring off at 4 p.m., with the boys to follow at 5:30.
After trailing 14-13 at the first break Saturday, the Wildcats clawed to a one-point halftime edge.
With no more than a basket separating the squads at each of the quarter breaks, the score stood 38-all heading into the final eight minutes.
Battling tooth-and-nail down the stretch, Calhoun was able to put one more point on the board than the Wildcats to claim the 48-47 victory.
Derrick Weber led the way for Polk with 17 points, seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
Gage Locke and Cody Groomes helped out with eight points apiece, while Chandler Hutcheson dished out four assists.
Senior Evan Ball was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line, plus drained a 3-pointer for seven points for the Wildcats, plus he handed out seven helps to earn all-tournament honors.
Calhoun had four players net double figures with Keyth Fightmaster putting in 16, Austin Byrd 12, Kaelen Riley 11 and Greyson Arnold 10.