Lemont Jones loves the work ethic and determination of the current crop of Polk County Wolverines.
The ability to score in bunches isn’t a bad trait to have, either.
Polk County exploded for 30 fourth-quarter points Wednesday, that flurry powering the Wolverines to a 63-56 victory over Madison in a Western Highlands Conference matchup that also doubled as Polk’s Senior Night.
Junior Dominique Carson more than did his part to help the upperclassman celebrate, matching a school record with seven 3-pointers and finishing with 28 points. Carson hit four threes and had 15 points in the frantic final eight minutes as Polk County notched a 3-0 start to a season for the first time since the 2007-2008 school year.
“A great win. A great senior win,” Jones said. “These kids play hard. We’re going to scrap. We’re not the biggest team, but we just play real hard.”
The fourth period opened with Carson racing to a spot in the corner, taking a pass and quickly drilling a 3-pointer to cut Madison’s six-point lead entering the quarter in half. That served as a signal of what was to come.
Yet the Patriots still led by six, 47-41, wuth 5:44 remaining. Carson hit another three, and Bryson Edwards followed with a conventional three-point play, a hoop and a free throw, to tie the score at 47. Shaq Wingo added a driving jumper in the lane after a Madison missed 1-and-1 opportunity, and the Wolverines had a 49-47 advantage with 4:51 to go.
The Wolverines then put together a key 6-0 run, with Tyler Staley scoring on a layup off a Polk fast brek, Edwards following with another layup in transition and Wingo then driving for a short basket with 2:23 to go, giving Polk a 58-50 advantage.
The summary of those two runs – a 17-3 Polk flurry in just over three minutes.
Madison wasn’t quite done, though, as Gannon Kooles hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the latter a double-clutch, avoid-a-defender basket with 41 seconds left that make it 60-56. But Carson and Chan Barber hit three free throws in the final 33 seconds and Polk kept Madison from scoring again to end the Patriots’ hopes and their six-game winning streak in the series.
“I’m so proud of those six seniors,” said Jones of Staley, Edwards, Wingo, Brett Bagwell, Omar Carson and Wesley Royster, all of whom played key minutes. “They deserve whatever they get. They deserve a 3-0 start.”
Wingo finished with 10 points, with Edwards and Staley each scoring seven. Bagwell had six points, with Royster scoring three and Barber adding two.
Polk County, which finished with 10 3-pointers in the game, travels Friday to Avery.