Save for a five-minute stretch of the third quarter, Polk County more than held its own Wednesday night with one of the top teams in the Western Highlands Conference.
Another sign for Wolverine head coach Antoni Staley that things are starting to fall into place.
Owen, though, used that third-period stretch in which it outscored Polk 17-3 to build enough cushion to take a 75-62 victory over the Wolverines in a WHC battle at Polk.
The Warhorses (12-2, 3-1) led 33-30 early in the third quarter before beginning to focus on pushing the ball inside. Owen had back-to-back three-point plays (of the traditional two-point basket and foul shot variety) and nearly had a third as part of its spurt that led to a 50-33 margin with 2:33 left in the period.
But Polk County (2-11, 0-5) roared back. A Markell Lipscomb basket started a surge in which the Wolverines cut that 17-point deficit to three, 51-48, at the 7:33 mark of the fourth period. The Wolverines outscored Owen 15-1 in a three-minute span.
“I told them that’s probably the most complete game we’ve played, hands down,” Staley said. “We did a lot of good things. There were some little things here and there that we’ve got to work on, but we played smart, listening and reacting.”
After Jaymes Wingo’s layup opened the fourth quarter and made it 51-48, Owen quickly pushed the lead to 10 points, 59-49. A Wingo 3-pointer at the 4:46 mark made it 60-54, but Owen scored the next six points and kept the margin at eight points or more the remainder of the quarter.
Brandon Bacher had five of Polk County’s eight 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, with Wingo also scoring 18. Dillon Overholt added 16 points, with Rustin Muse scoring four and Seth Hardin adding two.
“This is the first game we’ve had our solid team here,” Staley said. “I couldn’t really say anything bad to them. They’ve been through a lot, and I’m proud of those guys. They’ve overcome a lot, including a first-year coach, and adjusting and getting used to a new staff.”
The Wolverines travel Friday to Hendersonville for another Western Highlands Conference matchup.