Benton — Polk County finished up its District 5-AA Tournament with both the boys and girls basketball squads finishing in fourth place after a pair of tough losses Monday night.
The Wildkittens’ offensive struggles throughout the season were prevalent throughout their game against Sequoyah, which topped them 59-23.
On the other side of things, the Wildcats were locked in a fierce battle with Loudon, ultimately coming up short in their 69-62 loss.
The seven-point loss served as a marked improvement from Polk’s first regular season meeting with Loudon. In December the ’Cats lost 65-49 and then in January fell 56-49.
“That was a tough one and it’s not from a lack of effort and hustle tonight. I thought the kids played hard from start to finish, and I’m proud of them,” Wildcats coach Rusty Brewer stated.
The Redskins’ offense received quite a boost from Clay Jenkins, who finished the game with 36 points and a total of nine 3-pointers.
“They came out and shot the ball well early and Jenkins was hot tonight. They gave us bad matchups, so we had to try to zone them,” Brewer explained.
Three minutes into the game, things were all tied up at 5-all, but back-to-back treys by Jenkins broke up the tie.
Polk was forced to play from behind for the remainder of the quarter, and what became the game.
Trailing 19-11 to start the second quarter, the Wildcats were able to add 17 points to their total before the half, but were not able to hold off the Jenkins-led Redskins, who netted 21 more points.
The Wildcats started out the second half with a 12 point deficit.
While they were able to almost match the Redskins 17-16 in scoring for the quarter, Polk was unable to swing the momentum in its favor.
Led by Blake Cross, who finished the game with 19 points, seven of which came in the final quarter, the Wildcats were able to net 18 points to Loudon’s 12 in the fourth quarter.
Foul trouble proved costly to Polk in the final eight minutes of play, as the Redskins got six of their points from the free-throw line.
“You look back and you can find four possessions when it’s a seven-point ball game, and I know we made some mistakes on the defensive end, but we just didn’t shoot the ball well,” Brewer explained. “The effort was there on the offensive end, but we just couldn’t get the ball in the hole.”
The effort was there for the Wildcats, with Cody Groomes finishing the game with 13 points and five rebounds and Gage Locke getting 12 points and 11 rebounds of his own.
Cross had eight rebounds in the game as well and Will Richmond had six rebounds, with Devin Weber getting six rebounds and two blocks during the game.
The Wildcats will find out today if they travel to Brainerd or Tyner on Saturday for the first round of the Region 3-AA tournament.
“We’re going to take Tuesday off then come back and work on execution, defending — and we will be shooting a lot this week,” Brewer said.
LADY CHIEFS 59,
The Wildkittens have had issues shooting the ball all season, and the District 5-AA consolation game on Monday proved no different.
“It’s been all year: We don’t score points, and you can’t win basketball games if you don’t score points,” Polk coach Johnny Hayes said. “We don’t play very good defense either, and when they shoot uncontested layups on fast breaks, you can’t win either.”
Monday evening actually marked the highest score the Wildkittens have managed to get against the Lady Chiefs.
In December, they lost 36-17 and in January were defeated by Sequoyah 56-22.
Heather McClain’s basket and free throw accounted for the only points put up by the Wildkittens in the first quarter, while the Lady Chiefs started out with 14 points.
Sequoyah outscored Polk 18-9 in the second quarter, with Isabella Liner, McLain and MiKayla McClary being the only Wildkittens to put up any points in the quarter.
The third quarter proved the most insulting to the Wildkittens as the Lady Chiefs went on an unanswered 23 point run.
Polk was able to finish out the game with 11 points in the fourth quarter, while Sequoyah added only four more points to their total.
Liner had four assists and three rebounds on Monday, with Hannah Withrow getting six rebounds.
Felecia Johnson had three rebounds and two steals, while McClain had two rebounds and a steal.
The Wildkittens find out today if they will face Brainerd or Chattanooga Central in the first round of the Region 3-AA tournament on Friday, and will spend the next few days on the court practicing.
“We’re going to work on our intensity levels and our shooting,” Hayes stated.
Polk County 3 9 0 11 — 23
Sequoyah 14 18 23 4 — 59
WILDKITTENS (23) — Liner 8, McLain 8 McClary 5, Davis 2, Johnson, Waldroup, Trew, Muller, Withrow.
LADY CHIEFS (59) — Savana Atchley 13, Laura Whited 12, Hunter Simpson 11, Welshan 7, Torbett 2, White 2, Hawkins 2, Isbill, Walker, Moses, Hall, Davidson, Miller.
3-point goals: Polk County 2 (Liner 2); Sequoyah 2 (Simpson, Ingram).
Polk County 11 17 16 18 — 62
Loudon 19 21 17 12 — 69
WILDCATS (62) — Blake Cross 19 Cody Groomes 13, Gage Locke 12, Wimberley 6, Richmond 5, Weber 5, Sipe 2, Ownbey, Coffey.
REDSKINS (69)— Clay Jenkins 36, Tyler Ferguson 16, McBride 8, Aiden 6, Smallen 3, Blankenship, Mendez, Norton, Nichols, Williams, Carter, Gillis, Hoover, Mills.
3-point goals: Polk County 3 (Groomes, Cross, Richmond ); Loudon 13 (Jenkins 9, Aiden 2, Ferguson, Smallen).