Meanwhile the Wildkittens were just the opposite with struggles in the first and final frames that did them in.
Both Polk teams will facing the host Towns County (Ga.) teams in the opening round action with the Wildcats claiming a 63-38 victory, while the ’Kittens came out on the short end of a 52-48 final.
The Benton hoopsters will face off against Hayesville, N.C., today with the girls playing at 1 p.m., while the boys will take the court at 8:30. Hayesville defeated Gordon Lee (Ga.) by 14 points to advance to the event’s semifinals.
“We came out firing and that got us going,” declared Wildcat coach Rusty Brewer. “We scored 20 points in the first quarter and had a good, balanced team effort.”
Polk was not the only team sizzling the nylon in the opening half as the host had a hot hand as well, trailing by just three at the first break and 30-25 at the half.
“They (Towns) shot well in the first half, but they started missing some in the second half and we crashed the boards,” the ’Cat coach related. “We turned up the ‘D’ in the second half and held them to just three points in the third and 10 in the fourth quarter.”
Senior Al Akins led the Polk attack with 14 points, while Evan Ball drilled a trio of 3s on his way to 11 points. Cody Burger also found the bottom of the net for 11 points, while 6-foot-4 post Logan Brewer scored all eight of his points in the opening quarter.
“After Logan scored eight in the first, they (Towns) collapsed in on him and Cody (Burger) really stepped up,” the coach praised.
Polk (4-7) also got six points apiece from brothers Derek and Devin Webber, plus five from 6-foot-5 Italian exchange student Andrea Ragona.
Towns County (2-9) was led by Dallas Manus, who hit four “treys” on his way to a game-high 16 points.
After trailing 14-8 at the first break, the Polk girls rallied to take a 22-18 lead at the intermission.
Holding onto a two-point lead heading into the final eight-minute span, the Wildkittens couldn’t quite keep pace as Towns County went on an 18-12 run to pull out the four-point victory.
Senior Emily Wilson paced Polk with 17 points and five rebounds, while Maclain Yowarski added eight points, four caroms and three assists.
Natilie Miles cleaned the glass for nine rebounds, while Rachel Epperson had six points, four boards and a trio of steals.
The Wildkittens hit just 14-of-44 shots from inside the 19-foot arc and only 3-of-21 beyond it.