The Wildcats (2-7) held a four-point halftime advantage but then stumbled in the third frame as the Hurricanes blew past them with a 21-9 scoring advantage on their way to a 63-53 tally.
The Wildkittens (1-8) put just nine points on the scoreboard in each of the first three quarters as the Lady ’Canes, who advanced to the TSSAA substate playoffs last season, roared to a 55-44 win.
Both Polk County teams will play in the Mistletoe Madness Holiday Tournament at North Murray High School across the state line in Georgia this week. The Wildkittens open play Tuesday with a 4 p.m. against Coahulla Creek, while the Wildcats won’t take the court until Thursday at 8:30 against the host North Murray squad. The tournament will continue through Saturday.
The Wildcats actually outscored East Hamilton (6-3) by two points in the first, second and fourth periods combined, but the third-quarter run proved to be the game-winner.
Cody Knox led the ’Canes with 22 points, including 7-of-9 free throws, while teammate Dominic Powell hit all six of his foul shots on his way to 19 points.
A trio of Polk players netted double figures with Cody Groomes leading the way with 16 points. Senior Evan Ball added 11 points, including 4-for-4 from the charity stripe, five rebounds and four assists to the ’Cat tally
Derrick Weber was 6-for-7 from the line as he netted 10, plus grabbed four caroms and blocked a pair of shots, while Devin Weber added eight points and snatched a half dozen ricochets.
The Lady ’Canes (5-5) jumped out to a seven-point edge at the first break, but Polk was able to trim a bucket off the difference by the intermission.
East Hamilton was able inch ahead by eight heading into the final frame, where the teams exploded for the most productive part of the game with the visitors outscoring the hosts 20-17.
Emily Wilson and Rosa Haynes paced the Polk effort with 14 points apiece. While both hit a 3-pointer, Wilson sank 5-of-6 free throws and copped a pair of steals, while Haynes cleaned the glass for six rebounds.
Riley Hatcher helped out the home team with eight points and five caroms.