Polk County’s girls basketball team reached the end of its demanding non-conference schedule Wednesday night.
Now an equally challenging Western Highlands Conference slate awaits.
The Wolverines finished their preparation for conference play with an 81-55 home loss to a Cherokee team guided by former Polk County standout Chris Mintz.
The Braves (4-4) cranked up their trademark fast-paced offense from the outset, scoring the game’s first 11 points. Cherokee built the lead to 20 points by the midpoint of the second period and grabbed a 46-20 lead at the half.
In its first action in some two weeks after a break for the holidays, Polk County (1-10) began to find its rhythm in the second half, battling the Braves to a draw in the final two quarters.
“In the first quarter, and some of the second, we didn’t play like ourselves,” said Wolverine head coach Brandy Alm. “In the third quarter we decided to play our game, and it showed.”
The game offered Polk County a taste of what likely awaits this season in a WHC that may be as good as it’s been in quite some time. Avery and Mitchell are both ranked in this week’s NCPreps.com/HS Media state 1A girls basketball poll, with Mountain Heritage ranked in the 2A poll. Owen is off to an 11-2 start while Madison sits at 8-4.
Those five teams are a combined 48-12 entering conference play.
“I’m not happy with our record, but I feel like we’ve improved so much since game one,” Alm said. “The freshmen are playing with more confidence. We have a very tough conference ahead, a very tough conference.”
Autumn Owen scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds for Polk County, with Ansley Lynch posting seven points and nine rebounds. Sara Muse and Mariah Overholt each finished with eight points, with Kristen Hall scoring seven.
Kendall Hall and Rachael Davis each had two points and Julia Griffin added one for the Wolverines.