TELLICO PLAINS — As it usually is when Polk County and Tellico Plains meet, Thursday evening’s basketball games came down to the wire.
This time around the Bear teams were able to hold off the Benton squads in the end.
Both Polk teams jumped out to early leads and made fourth-quarter comebacks, but each fell just short as the Wildkittens dropped a 53-48 tally, while the Wildcats fell 54-50.
Polk County will travel north again this evening to wrap up District 5-AA play against Sweetwater.
Coach Johnny Hayes’ Wildkittens (4-19) led 12-9 at the close of the opening period Thursday, but Tellico (16-9) came roaring back to take a 24-19 edge at the intermission.
The Lady Bears stretched their advantage to nine points heading into the final eight-minute span, where Polk outscored them by an 18-14 margin.
The Wildkittens hit 11-of-26 shots from in front of the arc but were just 4-for-20 from beyond it and 14-of-20 at the free-throw line.
Emily Wilson topped the Polk effort with 16 points, including making 4-of-6 close-in shots and all five of her charity tosses. She also cleared four rebounds and handed out a pair of assists.
Rosa Haynes made 4-of-7 field goals, including a 3-pointer, and 2-of-3 free throws from 11 points.
Riley Hatcher netted 10 points and copped three steals for the Wildkittens, while Felecia Johnson cleared a half dozen rebounds and Hannah Withrow three caroms.
Makayla McCleary netted four points and snatched a trio of caroms, while Rachel Epperson dished out four assists and added three points.
BEARS 54, WILDCATS 50
The Polk boys also led early as the scoreboard favored them 15-10 at the end of the first period, but the hosts used a 19-9 second quarter run to take the lead.
The Bears (14-10) pushed the difference to nine points at the third buzzer, before the Wildcats (5-20) posted their second 15-10 run to close out the contest.
Cody Groomes had the hot hand for Polk, drilling a trio of “treys” on his way to a game-high 19 points.
Derrick Weber hit 5-of-7 free throws on his way to 15 points, plus was the chairman of the boards with nine rebounds, coming up just one rebound shy of a double-double.
Senior Evan Ball had a strong showing with eight points, nine assists and five caroms, while Chandler Hutcheson cleared seven rebounds and netted four points. Will Richmond helped out with four assists and a bucket.
Polk County 12 7 11 18 — 48
Tellico Plains 9 15 15 14 — 53
WILDKITTENS (48) — Emily Wilson 16, Rosa Hayes 11, Riley Hatcher 10, McClary 4, Epperson 3, Liner 2, Johnson, McLain 2, Johnson, Withrow, Hutcheson.
LADY BEARS (53) — Jasmine Harris 19, McKinley Dalton 13, Bailey Hunt 10, McMinn 3, Geren 3, Kirkland 3, Sutton 1, Cheek 1, Davenport.
3-point goals: Polk 4 (Hatcher 2, Wilson, Haynes); Tellico 3 (Harris 2, Kirkland).
Free throws: Polk 14-of-20; Tellico n/a.
Records: Polk County 4-19; Tellico Plains 16-9.
Polk County 15 9 11 15 — 50
Tellico Plains 10 19 15 10 — 54
WILDCATS (50) — Cody Groomes 19, Derrick Weber 15, Ball 8, Hutcheson 4, Richmond 2, Devin Weber 2, Coffey.
BEARS (54)— Robert Vandervort 17, Tyler Peeler 14, Colton Carter 11, Balcom 5, Stone 3, Collier 2, Murphy 2, Gooch.
3-point goals: Polk 4 (Groomes 3, Ball); Tellico 7 (Carter 3, Peeler 2, Balcom, Stone).
Free throws: Polk 8-of-12; Tellico 11-of-11.
Records: Polk County 5-20; Tellico Plains 14-10.