In their first meeting since the Wildkittens upset the Chargerettes in last season’s Region 3-AA championship, turning the ball over on their first four possessions was just an omen of things to come for Polk, as it fell behind by double digits in the first five minutes before dropping just its third of 14 games this season, 61-43.
The victory gave McMinn Central (14-1) the outright lead in the District 5-AA race with a 3-0 mark, while Polk slips to 2-1 against league competition. Both teams are expected to gets votes in next week’s first Associated Press state poll of the season.
In the boys contest, the Wildcats were the ones to race out to an early advantage but the Chargers rallied to win the final three frames for a 66-56 victory.
The Polk County squads will continue district play Friday evening as Sweetwater comes to Benton.
Giving up 15 offensive rebounds to the taller McMinn Central ladies and turning the ball over 17 times proved to be costly for the Wildkittens Tuesday.
Coach Johnny Morgan’s Chargerettes scored the game’s first five points and led 10-2 after Sydni Williams converted Polk’s seventh turnover into a 3-pointer.
Central’s Elizabeth Masengil put back in a pair of offensive rebounds to push the lead to double digits for the first time a few moments later.
The 10-point difference stood at the first break after Polk’s Haley Richmond hit the first of her trio of 3-pointers with 35 ticks on the clock but Chargerette Nakita Raper drilled a trey at the buzzer for a 17-7 difference.
The second period was more evenly matched as the visitors posted just a 12-10 scoring difference to go up by a dozen at the half.
The Wildkittens came out strong after the intermission and cut the deficit in half, using a 7-0 run midway through the third period to pull within six points before Central answered with an 8-2 run of its own to push the difference back to a dozen heading into the final frame.
Central’s Jenna Adams netted half of her 12 points and six of her 10 rebounds on the night in the fourth period as the Chargerettes capped the victory. The 6-foot-1 post also blocked three shots in the contest.
Masengil paced the visitors with 14 points, while Alisa Guardiola added 10.
Polk’s Maclain Yowarsky posted a game-high 21 points, plus pulled down a half dozen rebounds and copped a trio of steals.
Richmond was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc on her way to 11 points on the night and six rebounds, while Stephanie Qualls netted seven points, plus snatched five caroms off the glass.
Polk hit just 15-of-47 shots (32 percent) from the field and only 9-of-22 (41 percent) from the free throw line.
Central had the hot hand from in front of the 19-foot line, sinking 20-of-39, plus hit 7-of-10 charity tosses but was just 4-for-23 from long range.
The Chargerettes won the battle of the boards by a 31-28 margin.
Chargers 66, Wildcats 56
Brock Raper’s 3-pointer just over a minute into the contest sparked a 12-4 Polk County run to open the contest but the boys from Englewood finished out the frame with an 8-4 rally to cut the difference to just three at the first break.
The Wildcats (7-8, 1-2) maintained their advantage for the first four minutes of the second period before a three-point play, a pair of technical foul free throws and five points from Wesley Davis created a 10-point swing for the Chargers (6-7, 2-1).
Raper drained another long-range bomb just before the end of the half to trim the deficit to four points as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
The final 16 minutes were just as tight, with Central outscoring the hosts by two points in the third frame, but then saw the Wildcats pull within three points when Raper canned the third of his four treys on the evening with 6:18 left on the clock.
The Chargers were able to inch back ahead and sank 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Davis led all scorers with 19 points, while Scott Moses added 15 points and cleaned the glass for eight rebounds for the Chargers. Taylor Trew helped out with nine points and seven caroms.
Polk had a trio of players score in double figures with Logan Brewer netting 16, Raper 14 and Alex Akins 10. Akins also pulled down eight boards and dished off a trio of assists, while Brewer grabbed a half dozen caroms.
Like the girls, Central once again had the hot hand, hitting 21-of-37 shots from in front of the arc and 12-of-18 from the charity stripe, but made just 4-of-18 from long range.
Polk drilled 6-of-13 3-pointers but went only 10-of-26 from close in and 18-for-27 at the stripe. While the two teams were within a rebound of each other on the night, the Wildcat effort was hurt by 19 turnovers.
LADY CHARGERS 61, WILDKITTENS 43
McMinn Central 17 12 14 18 — 61
Polk County 7 10 14 12 — 43
Chargerettes (61) — Elizabeth Masengil 14, Jenna Adams 12, Alisa Guardiola 10, S. Williams 8, Raper 7, Johnson 6, Casteel 2, Cowart, Torbett.
Wildkittens (43) — Maclain Yowarsky 21, Haley Richmond 11, Qualls 7, Wilson 2, Silvers 2, Greer, Lee, Webb.
3-pointers: McMinn Central 4 (S. Williams 2, Johnson, Raper); Polk 4 (Richmond 3, Yowarsky).
Free Throws: McMinn Central 7-of-10; Polk 9-of-22.
Records: McMinn Central 14-1, 3-0 District 5-AA; Polk County 11-3, 2-1 District 5-AA.
CHARGERS 66, WILDCATS 56
McMinn Central 13 17 17 19 — 66
Polk County 16 10 15 15 — 56
Chargers (66) — Wesley Davis 19, Scott Moses 15, Trew 9, Miller 7, Smith 7, Cherry 5, Webb 3, Ward 1.
Wildcats (56) — Logan Brewer 16, Brock Raper 14, Alex Akins 10, Ball 7, Brown 7, Young 2, Cheatham,
3-pointers: McMinn Central 4 (Davis. Webb, Miller, Cherry); Polk 6 (Raper 4, Ball, Brewer).
Free Throws: McMinn Central 12-of-18; Polk 18-of-27.
Records: McMinn Central 6-7, 2-1 District 5-AA; Polk County 7-8, 1-2 District 5-AA.