Unfortunately for Polk County, a pair of tough losses were handed out at home by visiting District 5-AA leader McMinn Central.
The Wildkittens (9-14, 2-5) fell to the Chargerettes (14-8, 7-1) 62-24, while the Wildcats (6-18, 0-7) faced a 76-47 loss to the Chargers (20-3, 8-0).
Despite past precedent and the overall outcome of the game, the Wildcats were able to hold their own against the Chargers, who are undefeated in the district.
“Up there we had four, single digit quarters. We turned the ball over and didn’t take advantage of any opportunities. We scored 47 points this time, which wasn’t as many as we needed but was still a better job on offense then we did up there,” Wildcats head coach Rusty Brewer stated.
In their previous meeting on Jan. 7, McMinn Central defeated Polk County 84-31.
Both teams battled back and fourth in a neck-and-neck first quarter. A 3-pointer by Cody Groomes halfway through the quarter gave Polk a one point, 6-5 lead over McMinn Central.
The Chargers turned the tables 20 seconds later with a trey that gave them back the lead.
With 17 seconds remaining in the quarter, a 3-point bomb by Will Richmond tied things up 17-all.
McMinn Central surged ahead in the second quarter, and never let Polk close the deficit more than six points for the remainder of the half — and the game.
“We shot the ball well early and that kept us in it. Then, in the second quarter, we had some opportunities but turned the ball over a few times and had some shots that didn’t fall which got us behind,” Brewer said.
As the third quarter began, the Chargers had a 41-26 lead over the Wildcats who were unable to find an answer for Josh Scudder, who scored 18 of his 28 points in the second half.
Even though Polk was able to add 12 points to their score in the third, McMinn more than doubled that with 26 points.
Both teams finished out the fourth quarter with nine points apiece, but the Chargers’ strong offensive efforts in the previous quarters were enough to give them a 29-point victory over the Wildcats.
“In the second half, McMinn Central turned it up and we seemed to lose the intensity on defense — you can’t do that against a team like that. They won 20 ballgames for a reason,” Brewer remarked.
Groomes led Polk with 17 points and a trio of treys. Gage Locke finished the night with 14 points and a pair of 3-pointers of his own.
The Wildcats were 8-for-13 from the free-throw line, while the Chargers were 6-for-15.
The last time the Wildkittens and Chargerettes met the Englewood team came away with a 58-15 win at home.
Friday night, Polk was able to trim the overall deficit by five points but still was dealt a 38-point loss by McMinn Central.
“McMinn Central has a good nose for the ball and they go hard and they go after it. We don’t do that nearly as well as they do and that hurt us in the long run,” Wildkittens head coach Johnny Hayes commented.
The two teams found themselves tied up 9-all with 1:22 remaining in the first quarter, but a bucket by Hannah Cherry gave the Chargerettes the 11-9 lead.
McMinn went on a 15-point run in the second quarter, until Felecia Johnson’s trip to the charity-stripe at 2:28 gave Polk a much needed two points.
The Wildkittens were only able to net three more points before the half came to a close, with MiKayla McClary getting one point and Johnson getting two more points from the free-throw line.
“The first quarter was decent and then after that it just fell apart. We only had five points in the second off of free throws and they had 24 points off of transition buckets and stealing the basketball. We’ve got to get better at taking care of the basketball,” Hayes stated.
The Wildkittens’ efforts in the third quarter held the Chargerettes to 11 points, while the Polk County girls added six more points to their score
McMinn was able to net 16 more points to Polk’s four points to end the game.
Heather McClain led the Wildkittens with 11 points.
Polk was 12-for-16 at the charity stripe, while McMinn hit only nine of their 18 free-throw attempts.
Polk County will finish up their district play on Friday, when Sweetwater travels down to Benton.
McMinn Central 11 24 11 16 — 62
Polk County 9 5 6 4 — 24
CHARGERETTES (62) — Hannah Cherry 15, Trentham 8, Lynn 7, Martin 7, Atkins 6, Plaster 5, Truelove 5, Williams 4, Casteel 3.
WILDKITTENS (24) — Heather McLain 11, Withrow 4, Johnson 4, McClary 3, Waldroup 2, Liner, Davis, Trew, Muller.
3-POINTERS: MC 5 (Cherry 2, Truelove, Martin, Lynn); PC 0.
FREE THROWS: MC 9-of-18; PC 12-of-16.
RECORDS: Polk County 9-14, 2-5 District 5-AA; McMinn Central 14-8, 7-1 District 5-AA.
McMinn Central 17 24 26 9 — 76
Polk County 17 9 12 9 — 47
CHARGERS (76) — Josh Scudder 28, Peyton Harper 19, Skyler Farrar 14, Knight 5, Bull 4, Guy 4, Kay 1, Miller 1, Boyd, Brooks, Guardiola.
WILDCATS (47) — Cody Groomes 17, Gage Locke 14, Weber 6, Richmond 3, Sipe 3, Frerichs 2, Wimberley 2, Cross, Ownbey, Coffey.
3-POINTERS: MC 10 (Scudder 5, Farrar 4, Harper); PC 7 (Groomes 3, Locke 2, Richmond, Weber).
FREE THROWS: MC 6-of-15; PC 8-of-13.
RECORDS: Polk County 6-18, 0-7 District 5-AA; McMinn Central 20-3, 8-0 District 5-AA.