Polk fights back from early gap, but Mitchell ekes out win

Mitchell unleashed a 3-point barrage, built a 20-point lead and seemed set for an easy Western Highlands Conference win Tuesday.

Except Polk County wasn’t going to let the tale of Senior Night be told like that.

The Wolverines battled back, all the way back, grabbing a fourth-quarter lead before ultimately falling 56-51 to the Mountaineers in a boys basketball matchup at Polk.

Mitchell – both the team and guard Mitchell McMahan – lit up the scoreboard early. McMahan had three 3-pointers in the first quarter, two of those in a game-opening run that saw the Muntaineers (7-10, 4-4) race to an 18-3 lead, then push the lead past 20 at one point.

But Polk County (6-15, 2-6) withstood the barrage and slowly began to whittle away the deficit. The Wolverines trimmed the gap to nine by halftime – the Mountaineers finished with seven 3-pointers in the first half – then to six by the end of the third quarter.

Polk finally drew even with 4:04 remaining on a Max Perkins 3-pointer, knotting the score at 46-46, then took the lead for the first time as senior Keyandre Thomas hit a jumper from the lane with 3:24 left to give the Wolverines a 48-47 advantage.

Mitchell answered with a traditional three-point play as Caius Peterson drove to the basket, scored, drew a foul and hit the free throw. Polk County then missed a flurry of shots on its next possession, with a couple of follow-up shots rolling around the rim and away, before Mitchell grabbed the rebound.

Mountaineer senior Tyler McKinney hit four free throws over the next minute and a half to build a six-point cushion, but Edwards sliced that in half with a 3-pointer at the 32-second mark. That would be it for the Wolverines, though, as Noah Pitman hit two free throws in the final 24 seconds to seal the win.

“We battled back and forced them to do some things they don’t like to do,” said Polk County head coach Lemont Jones. “The kids played hard. Since we’re not the biggest team or the most physical, we have to get after it, and the kids played hard and did that.”

Edwards had 16 points and five rebounds for Polk, which played without leading scorer Dominique Carson, sidelined by an injury.

Tyler Staley added 10 points, with Shaq Wingo and Thomas each scoring eight. Brett Bagwell had six points, with Perkins adding three.

Polk County honored its two seniors, Thomas and Grant Waddell, before the game with an on-court ceremony.

The Wolverines’ game with Bessemer City on Wednesday has been cancelled as Polk County will now travel Thursday to face Mountain Heritage, that game moved from Friday due to weather concerns.

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