Both the Wildcats (6-20, 2-6) and Wildkittens (5-19, 2-6) ended their regular season district play with their second wins over Sweetwater.
It wasn’t the 38-point thrashing they gave the Lady Wildcats back in early January, but the Polk County girls claimed a 47-39 victory. Meanwhile the boys from Benton defeated Sweetwater by a seven-point margin for the second time this season. Friday night’s final was 47-40, while the first meeting ended with a 51-44 tally.
Polk County will wrap up the regular season Monday as Hamilton Heights comes to Benton before post season play tips off Thursday at McMinn County High School.
Both Benton squads earned No. 4 seeds in the District 5-AA Tournament and will face fifth-seeded Sweetwater again in Thursday’s play-in games.
Despite a five-point loss Thursday night against Tellico Plains, the Wildkittens came into Friday’s game against the Lady Wildcats (1-25, 0-8) unaffected.
Polk County won the tip and were soon on the board with a 3-pointer from Emily Wilson.
Throughout the first half, the Wildkittens were impressive from the charity stripe, netting 8-of-10 free throws, but sank just 8-of-22 after the intermission.
“I think we shot the ball well early, that helped us definitely. We shot free throws pretty well in the beginning,” Polk County head coach Johnny Hayes stated.
The visitors went into the second half with a firm 33-21 lead over the home team. The Wildkittens would allow the Lady Wildcats only four more points in the third period.
Sweetwater would never be able to take the lead and ultimately fell to Polk County 47-39.
Polk County had 27 rebounds, 12 steals, and eight turnovers Friday night.
“We tried to hit the boards as hard as we could, get all the rebounds and make sure we secured every possession,” Hayes said.
Wilson shined during her team’s final district match of the season, racking up a total of 26 points, including sinking 9-of-10 foul shots, plus pulling down a half dozen rebounds.
Rachel Epperson also cleared six caroms, dished off four assists and netted four points, while Rosa Haynes snagged five rebounds in the victory.
Riley Hatcher added nine points to the Polk tally, plus copped seven steals, while Felecia Johnson netted seven points. Hatcher and Johnson were both 3-for-4 at the free throw line.
POLK COUNTY 47
In keeping with their female counterparts, the Polk County Wildcats were able to hang on against a very determined Sweetwater team and come out victorious.
“It was a good win for us, it’s been a long time. Hopefully we’ll get some momentum going into tournament,” Polk County head coach Rusty Brewer said.
The game was an evenly matched one for most of the night, as both teams battled to get a final district win.
By the end of the first period, Polk County had managed a eight-point lead, 14-6, but Sweetwater (5-21, 0-8) was able to turn the tables and trailed by just a bucket, 21-19, at the half.
The game would get even closer as Polk County ended the third period with only a one-point lead over Sweetwater, 32-31.
“They (Sweetwater) fought, they didn’t give up, and they battled. We had to do the same, we had to continue to battle to the very end,” Brewer explained.
A determined Polk County team quickly extended their lead by six points once the fourth period had started.
Sweetwater was plagued by fouls in the final three minutes of the game, which Polk County capitalized on, hitting 8-of-14 down the stretch, to post the seven-point victory.
Evan Ball and Cody Groomes drained a pair of 3-pointers each to led Polk with 12 points apiece, with Ball also draining 6-of-8 free throws.
Derrick Weber added to the winning total with 10 points of his own, including 4-of-6 at the charity stripe. Chandler Hutcheson cleared a half dozen rebounds for the victors.
Polk County 15 18 7 7 — 47
Sweetwater 12 9 4 14 — 39
WILDKITTENS (47) — Emily Wilson 26, Hatcher 9, Johnson 7, Epperson 4, Withrow 1, Liner, McLain, McClary, Stewart, Hayes, Hutcheson.
LADY WILDCATS (39) — Mandlyn McNabb 15, Betsy Mashburn 13, Hurst 2, Duprey 2, Burgess 2, Grvin 2, Fairbanks, Rasmussen, Singer, Thomasson, Greene.
3-point goals: Polk 5 (Wilson 3, Hatcher 2); Sweetwater 6 (McNabb 5, Mashburn).
Free throws: Polk 16-of-32; Sweetwater 2-of-5.
Records: Polk County 5-19, 2-6 5-AA; Sweetwater 1-25, 0-8 District 5-AA.
Polk County 14 7 11 15 — 47
Sweetwater 6 13 12 9 — 40
POLK COUNTY (47) — Evan Ball 12, Cody Groomes 12, Derrick Weber 10, Richmond 6, Coffey 4, Dev. Weber 3, Hutcheson, Locke, Keith, Cross.
SWEETWATER (40) — Tyler Hill 11, Tyler Watson 10, Seth Battle 10, Spencer 5, MaGaughey 2, Davis 2, Wicker, Barr, Thaxton, Hernadez, Johnson, Allen, T. Hill, C. Hill.
3-point goals: Polk 4 (Ball 2, Groomes 2); Sweetwater 3 ( Watson 2, Battle).
Free throws: Polk 13-of-23; Sweetwater 7-of-10.
Records: Polk County 6-20, 2-6 5-AA; Sweetwater 5-21, 0-8.