Coming off two emotional, close games with rival Landrum, Polk County’s boys basketball team got a much-needed calmer outing Wednesday night.
The Wolverines wrapped up their pre-conference schedule with a 69-52 win over East Henderson, pulling away in the second half for their second victory in two nights and a season sweep of the Eagles.
Polk County (4-2) placed four players in double figures in turning a six-point halftime lead into a margin as large as 21 points in the second half. Jamal Tanner and Jaron Bontrager each scored 15 points, Anthony Carson had 12 and Saquan Miller had 11 for Polk.
“You could tell at the beginning that we were kind of lackadaisical, that we were still celebrating the win at Landrum,” said Polk County head coach Josh McEntire. The Wolverines defeated their border rival 86-81 on Tuesday after an overtime loss to Landrum on Friday. “We were playing some good defense early, but we were taking some questionable shots and not moving the ball.”
Leading 24-17 at the half, Polk began to take command of the game in the third period. Tanner capped an 11-0 Polk run with back-to-back 3-pointers from the corner to give the Wolverines a 41-22 lead with 5:26 left in the period. East then had a rally of its own, an 11-point surge to pull back within eight, but Miller and Carson led a 9-0 run that upped the lead back to 50-33 with 55 seconds left. Polk took a 51-37 edge into the fourth quarter, scoring 27 points in the period.
“I thought we settled down in the second quarter and that carried over into the third quarter,” McEntire said. “We did a really good job of moving the ball and sharing the ball and taking good shots.
“We got the big spurt that I wanted and we were able to put the game away.”
The margin never dropped below 12 in the final quarter as the Wolverines, who dropped into a seldom-used zone much of the second half, pushed the cushion to 20 midway through the period. Seven different players scored in the quarter as the Wolverines were able to rotate their entire lineup into the game.
“We switched to the zone in the second half. I wanted to save our legs a little bit since we have three games this week,” McEntire said. “We’ve been working on it, and I thought it was a good time to try it out. It helped us get two or three steals.”
Polk County opens Western Highlands Conference play in Friday, traveling to Madison.
Polk County Scoring
Jamal Tanner 15, Jaron Bontrager 15, Anthony Carson 12, Saquan Miller 11, Wes Mullis 6, Will Ballard 6, Jordan Smith 3, Jason Chupp 1