HIAWASSEE, Ga. — When Coach Johnny Hayes can get his Polk County offense in gear, they have good results.
Breaking the 50-point barrier just four times this season, the Wildkittens have won three of them, including their highest point total of the campaign in a 72-49 win over Murphy, N.C., in the Battles of the States Friday.
The Polk County girls opened the annual tournament with a 50-42 defeat at the hands of Union County, Ga., Thursday before advancing to the consolation bracket finals with their 23-point win over the Lady Bulldogs.
After falling in their opening round contest as well, the Wildcats bounced back with a 51-38 win over the host Towns County, Ga., squad to also earn a spot in the consolation final Saturday. No other information on Friday’s Polk boys win or Saturday’s results were available as of press time.
Both Polk County squads are now 3-11 on the season and will get right back into the District 5-AA race Friday when Sweetwater comes to Benton for a varsity doubleheader.
LADY BULLDOGS 49
Scoring more points in the first half as they have in six of their games this season, the Polk girls raced out to a 19-11 lead at the first buzzer Friday and then stretched their advantage to 26 points at the half with a 21-13 lead in the second period.
The Wildkittens, which turned the ball over just twice in the victory, kept the pressure on by doubling up the North Carolina girls 20-10 in the third quarter before settling for their largest margin of victory this season.
Polk drained 7-of-10 shots from beyond the 19-foot arc and 18-of-41 in front of it, plus went 15-for-21 at the free throw line.
Emily Wilson had a strong shooting night, hitting 5-of-6 3-pointers, plus 3-of-4 from close range and both of her foul shots for 23 points. She also handed out a trio of assists.
Rachel Epperson didn’t miss a shot all night, hitting all seven of her shots from the field and a pair foul shots, plus she grabbed four rebounds and copped a pair of steals.
Rosa Haynes was 2-for-3 from beyond the arc on her way to a dozen points, plus dished out six assists, while Felecia Johnson pulled down a trio of caroms, dished off a pair of assists and went 3-for-4 from the charity stripe.
Heather McLain sank 4-of-5 free throws on her way to a half dozen points, with Makayla McClary adding five points and the same amount of helps. Riley Hatcher and Shelby Lillard helping out with four and three points to complete the winning total. Hatcher also dealt three “dimes.”
LADY PANTHERS 50
After an evenly fought opening period, Union County inched ahead with one more made basket than the girls from Benton in the second frame.
The Lady Panthers pushed their advantage to a half dozen points heading into the final eight minutes and then tacked on an extra basket down the stretch for the eight-point difference.
Once again Polk had three scorers in double figures with Wilson netted 16, including three from both sides of the arc, while Hatcher also drained a trio of treys on her way to 11 points and cleaned the glass for a half dozen boards. Haynes pumped in 10, cleared four rebounds and dished off three helps.
McClary rounded out the scoring with five points, while Epperson handed out four assists and snatched three rebounds.
Polk County 19 21 20 12 — 72
Murphy, N.C. 11 13 10 15 — 49
WILDKITTENS (72) — Emily Wilson 23, Rachel Epperson 16, Rosa Haynes 12, McLain 6, McClary 5, Hatcher 4, Johnson 3, Lillard 3, Hutcheson, Withrow.
LADY BULLDOGS (49) — No individual results available.
3-pointers: Polk 7 (Wilson 5 Haynes 2).
Free throws: Polk 15-of-21.
Records: Polk 3-11.
Polk County 7 13 9 13 — 42
Union County, Ga. 7 15 13 15 — 50
WILDKITTENS (42) — Emily Wilson 16, Riley Hatcher 11, Rosa Haynes 10, McClary 5, Epperson, Johnson, McLain, Withrow.
LADY PANTHERS (50) — No individual results available.
3-pointers: Polk 6 (Wilson 3, Hatcher 3).
Free throws: Polk 6-of-9.
Records: Polk 2-11.