After two hard-fought, intense consolation games, both Polk County squads lost to their respective opponents, having to settle for fourth place in the 5-AA tournament.
The Wildkittens (6-22) suffered an absolutely heartbreaking 43-42 overtime loss to Meigs County (25-7), while one bad quarter left the Wildcats (6-22) with little chance of a comeback in a 58-44 loss to the Chiefs (20-7).
Prior to Monday night, Polk County had suffered quite staggering losses to the Lady Tigers during the regular season, having lost by 21 points on Dec. 7, and 22 points on Jan. 18.
The postseason Wildkittens seemed to be a different breed though, and were able to keep Meigs County on their toes Monday night.
“The girls came out and played hard. I was glad to see that,” Polk head coach Johnny Hayes said.
The game got off to a slow start, with the first quarter ending with the Lady Tigers ahead of the Wildkittens 8-4.
Meigs County was only able to net two points during the second period, while Polk County was able to add 14 to the scoreboard.
The Wildkittens took the lead, 11-10, thanks to a 3-pointer from Riley Hatcher with 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the half.
The “Big Red” added another seven points by the end of the half, with the final three points coming from an almost half court shot by Emily Wilson.
The second half opened up on a negative note for the Wildkittens, as they were only able to add five points to their total. Polk County also found itself in foul trouble, with six of the Lady Tigers’ 16 points coming from Brandi Kilpatrick at the free-throw line.
“We got in a little bit of foul trouble with some key girls, and that kind of hurt us. We missed some easier shots down the stretch that would’ve helped us out a lot, but we also made several good shots,” Hayes commented.
The Wildkittens went into the fourth period trailing by three points, but a quick 3-pointer by Rosa Haynes tied things up with seven minutes remaining. Felecia Johnson added one more 3-pointer to the board.
The Lady Tigers were able to decrease the deficit to just one point with just under six minutes remaining, but it was Polk County which added five more points to the scoreboard.
The game of cat and mouse was far from over though, as Meigs was able to narrow the Wildkitten lead to just four points.
Polk County was up 36-34 with two minutes remaining in the game. Wilson had the opportunity to add one more point to their lead, but was unable to capitalize at the free-throw line.
Taylor Boggess tied up the game with 11.2 seconds left, sending the teams into overtime.
“We just couldn’t come away with it and had a few bad decisions down the stretch, and that hurt us,” Hayes explained.
The Wildkittens fell victim to their own fouls in overtime, and despite adding six more points to their score, found themselves defeated by one point.
“We’ll keep battling. I’ve told them it’s one game at a time. We’ve played this one, we executed the way we thought we needed to execute to win the game and came up short by one there,” Hayes said. “Now the focus is on the next one and we know what we’ve got to do.”
Wilson led the Wildkittens with 17 points. The Lady Tigers had a trio hit double digits; Brandi Kilpatrick had 14 points, Emileigh Swafford added 11 points, and Taylor Boggess had 10 points.
The Wildkittens will have a few days to rest up and practice before playing either East Hamilton or Howard at the 5-AA Regionals on Friday.
The Wildcats went into Monday’s game against the Chiefs having previously lost to them by 20 points on Nov. 30, and by one on Jan. 11.
The Red and White came out soaring and strong in the first quarter, scoring 15 points while the Chiefs scored 12.
Polk County took the lead early and Sequoyah was forced to play catchup during the entire first half, finally narrowing the deficit by one point by halftime thanks to the three 3-pointers netted by Shon Stevens.
The Wildcats found themselves at a serious disadvantage in the third quarter and scored one lone basket. The Chiefs added 17 points to the scoreboard, and ended the quarter leading 40-26.
“You’ve got to score more than two points, there’s no excuse for that. You’ve got to be able to put points on the board,” Wildcat head coach Rusty Brewer admitted.
During the first half Polk County had nine turnovers. In the third period alone the Wildcats had nine more, which cost them dearly.
Polk County shook off its one-basket quarter and came back fighting strong in the fourth, scoring 18 points. Sadly, its late rush was evenly matched by Sequoyah, which also added another 18 points to its total.
“You’ve got to give Sequoyah the credit, they turned the intensity up in the third quarter and we just couldn’t match it,” Brewer said. “I felt like we played well in the first half, still had some opportunities out there that we didn’t take advantage of; for the most part we played well in the first half. The fourth quarter we came on, [it was] just that third quarter.”
Despite a solid three quarters of basketball, it was the one poorly played quarter that cost Polk County a third place finish in the 5-AA tournament.
Shon Stevens was the scoring leader for Sequoyah, racking up 23 points, including five 3-pointers.
Evan Ball led Polk County with 17 points, followed by Will Richmond, who had 11 points.
According to Brewer, this is not the first time the Wildcats have fallen victim to one bad quarter.
“We talked about not turning the basketball over and not having a single-digit scoring quarter. That’s been something that we’ve done several times this year, played well for three, but had that one bad one.”
The team will take the next few down days to practice and prepare for the 5-AA Regionals that will begin on Friday against either Howard or Brainerd.
Polk County 4 14 5 13 6 — 42
Meigs County 8 2 16 10 7 — 43
Wildkittens (42) — Emily Wilson 17, Johnson 7, Haynes 6, Liner 4, hatcher 4, Eperson 4, McLain, McClary, Stewart, Lillard, Withrow, Hutcheson.
Lady Tigers (43) — Brandi Kilpatrick 14, Emileigh Swafford, 11 Taylor Boggess 10, hampton 8, Woods, Lewis, Layman, Holmes, Davis, Perkinson, Dawson.
3-point goals: Polk County 4 (Johnson, Hatcher, Wilson, haynes); Meigs County 5 (Boggess, 2, Swafford 2, Hampton).
Free throws: Polk County 6-11; Meigs County 16-19.
Records: Polk County 6-22; Meigs County 25-7.
Polk County 15 9 2 18 — 44
Meigs County 12 11 17 18 — 58
Wildcats (44) — Evan Ball 17, Will Richmond 11, Groomes 8, Dev. Weber, 4, Hutcheson, Locke, Coffey, Keith, Cross, Der. Weber.
Chiefs (58) — Shon Evans 23, Taylor Hawkins 16, Millsaps 8, B Strickland, 5, Schaffer 3, B. King 2, t. King 1, Hamon, T. Strickland, Morris, Denham, Abernathy, Moore.
3-point goals: Polk County 6 (Ball 3, Groomes 2, Richmond); Sequoyah 10 (Stevens 5, Hawkins 2, Schaffer, Millsaps, Strickland).
Free throws: Polk 4-5; Sequoyah 6-9.
Records: Polk County 6-22; Sequoyah 20-7.