Antoni Staley doesn’t want to hear anything about moral victories.
But the first-year Polk County head coach admitted that there were a lot of positives to be found in the Wolverines’ 64-60 loss Friday to Mitchell in a Western Highlands Conference game at Polk.
The Wolverines (1-7, 0-3) led early in the fourth period before going scoreless for almost three minutes. That stretch allowed Mitchell (1-5, 1-0) to pull away to a 59-52 lead, the Mountaineers’ 8-0 capped by Justin Greene’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:42 remaining.
Polk County, though, fought back, with Dillon Overholt scoring eight straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers, to cut Mitchell’s lead to 62-60 with 39 seconds left. The Mountaineers then missed a free throw attempt, but the Wolverines couldn’t get a potential game-tying shot to fall, and Mitchell’s Alex McKinney hit two free throws with 20 seconds left to secure the Mountaineers’ win.
“I saw a lot of good things,” Staley said. “All in all, for once after a game, I’m not upset. I am upset that we lost the game, but not with how we played.”
It was a Polk County team with a different look, with Qualon Sutton and Markell Lipscomb joining the team from the junior varsity. Sutton scored just three points, but Staley said the freshman gave the team a spark defensively.
“Qualon came in, and his aggressiveness and just the way he played was something we needed,” Staley said. “That aggressiveness kept him in the game at times when he maybe wasn’t in the spot he should have been.”
Polk County led much of the first half, getting balanced scoring in leading by as many as six before Mitchell, still settling its lineup after just getting its football players on the floor this week, rallied for a 31-30 lead at the break. A Sutton 3-pointer early in the third period pushed Polk County ahead 39-35, but the quarter ended with the teams tied at 45.
The Mountaineers pulled ahead 51-47 early in the fourth period, but Brandon Bacher drilled a 3-pointer and Overholt hit a short jumper to give the Wolverines a 52-51 lead with 5:17 left. Polk wouldn’t score again until Overholt hit a 17-foot jumper with 2:28 remaining.
Overholt finished with 24 points, 18 of those in the second half, to lead Polk County. Jaylon Bontrager, Clark Phipps (back from a concussion) and Bacher each added eight with Amir Gary scoring seven. Sutton finished with three and Seth Hardin added two points for Polk.
The Wolverines will next be in action on Dec. 28, facing Rosman in the opening round of the Knights Christmas Tournament at North Henderson.