“It’s time for some soul searching,” declared an exasperated Coach Rusty Brewer after his Wildcats fell 43-40 to visiting Hiwassee Dam (N.C.).
“You’ve got to score and play defense to win. We didn’t do either. We haven’t played well the last three games, so it’s time to take a look at ourselves and see what’s going on,” he added.
The Wildkittens were able to put together a fourth quarter rally to force an overtime period, but managed just one basket in the extra frame and came up on the short end of a 46-42 final.
After taking a short break for the holiday, the Polk squads will return to the hardwood Tuesday as North Murray (Ga.) comes calling.
After Shakori Pickle netted the first of her game-high 15 points to open the scoring Tuesday evening, the Wildkittens didn’t lead again until the fourth quarter.
Hiwassee Dam (3-1) ran off 10 straight points to take a quick advantage after the opening basket and led 15-8 at the first break.
Polk (4-2) was able to trim the deficit to just three points at the half, and was down four when the third horn sounded.
Pirkle drained a pair of jumpers, while Heather McLain and Felecia Johnson both added free throws as the Wildkittens netted the first seven points of the fourth frame to take a four-point edge with four minutes left in regulation.
The girls from North Carolina bounced back with a half dozen unanswered points to regain the lead with 18 ticks left.
Johnson was fouled and stepped to the line to coolly sink a pair of free throws to even the score with 8.3 on the clock, forcing the overtime.
The Lady Eagles took command quickly in the extra frame, netting the first six of the first eight points and then holding on as Polk missed its final four shots.
Pirkle pulled down seven rebounds, snatched a trio of steals and blocked two shots to go with her 15 points.
Johnson was 4-of-5 from the free-throw line, plus grabbed five boards and copped a pair of thefts, while Heather McLain grabbed seven caroms in the contest.
EAGLES 43, WILDCATS 40
After the lead changed hands eight times in the first eight minutes, Polk was on top the entire second quarter until the an offensive rebound putback at the buzzer knotted the contest at 22-all for the intermission.
The Wildcats (2-4) once again edged ahead during the third frame, but the visitors rallied with a 3-pointer with five seconds on the clock for a 31-28 advantage going into the final period.
After going down by five on the first shot of the fourth quarter, Polk pumped in seven straight points to retake the lead, but the seesaw continued with the Eagles (1-3) fighting right back.
The Wildcats trailed by a point with 54 seconds remaining, but Hiwassee Dam sealed its first victory of the season by hitting 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch.
Polk struggled to find the bottom of the net throughout the contest, hitting just 13-of-43 shots from the field and only 12-of-28 at the free-throw line.
Gage Locke led the home team with nine points, while Cody Groomes and Bryce Coffey followed with eight and seven points respectively. Coffey also cleaned the glass for seven caroms.
Blake Cross helped out with five rebounds and a trio of steals for the ’Cats, while Chris Wimberley also pulled down five boards, blocked a pair of shots and had a couple of thefts.
Hiwassee Dam (NC) 15 6 11 6 8 — 46
Polk County 8 10 11 9 4 — 42
LADY EAGLES (46) — Cheyenne Roberts 9, Haylie Shope 7, Jacobsen 6, Raper 5, Nichols 5, Helton 4, Crowe 3, Crisp 3, Forrister 2, Bryson 2.
WILDKITTENS (42) — Shakori Pirkle 15, Shelby Lillard 7, Isabella Liner 6, Johnson 4, McLain 4, McClary 4, Hutchison 2, Davis.
3-POINTERS: HD 4 (Jacobsen 2, Shope, Nichols); Polk 2 (Liner 2).
FREE THROWS: HD 8-of-21; Polk 7-of-12.
RECORDS: Hiwassee Dam 3-1; Polk County 4-2.
Hiwassee Dam (NC) 10 12 9 12 — 43
Polk County 11 11 6 12 — 40
EAGLES (43) — Chance Roberts 14, Zach Beckner 12, Wiggins 4, Spies 2, Hass 2, Davis 2, Rhodes 1, Hales, Exum.
WILDCATS (40) — Gage Locke 9, Cody Groomes 8, Bryce Coffey 7, Rogers 4, Wimberley 4, Cross, Ownbey 2, Frerichs 2, Richmond.
3-POINTERS: HD 1 (Roberts); Polk 2 (Groomes 2).
FREE THROWS: HD 14-of-24; Polk 12-of-28.
RECORDS: Hiwassee Dam 1-3; Polk County 2-4.