Despite the end result Tuesday night, a 69-66 overtime loss to North Henderson, Polk County boys basketball coach Josh McEntire found plenty of positives in the Wolverines’ home opener.
Tops among them – the fact Polk even got the game into overtime.
“We’ve had one practice together as a team,” McEntire said. “I’m really proud of our effort. The kids fought and fought and fought. That’s what non-conference is about, putting your team in tough situations and making the team better before conference starts.”
Sophomore guard Jamal Tanner scored 34 points, just two shy of the school record held by Otis Miller, and Saquan Miller added 17 as the Wolverines (1-1) rallied from an eight-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter to force overtime. Tanner and Miller each had 3-pointers in that comeback as Polk fought back from a 55-47 hole, tying the game at 60 with 1:21 left on two Anthony Carson free throws.
The Wolverines then briefly took the lead seconds later when Miller intercepted a North Henderson pass and fed Tanner for an easy lay-in. North Henderson quickly answered as Austin Nelson rebounded a missed shot and scored with 59 seconds left. Both teams then had two more possessions in the final minute, but each failed to score. Carson perhaps had the best of those scoring chances, but drew his fifth foul on a charging call while driving the lane with seven seconds left.
North Henderson (3-1) grabbed an early lead in overtime and never relinquished it, though Polk had a couple of opportunities to tie the game in the final minute, including Wes Brady’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer that bounced off the rim. The Knights hit 4-of-6 free throws in the final minute to help clinch the win.
Free-throw shooting played a key role in the game, as the two teams combined to shoot 74 foul shots. The Wolverines were just 13-of-31 at the line, while North Henderson was 21-of-44.
“That was an early-season basketball game,” McEntire said. “Everything about it was.”
After a seesaw first quarter, Polk County built a 22-14 lead early in the second before struggling offensively for the rest of the period. North Henderson outscored Polk 19-4 in the final five minutes of the second quarter, including the final 11 points of the half, in building a 33-26 halftime lead.
“We had that bad stretch in the second quarter. . . and we were fighting uphill after that,” McEntire said. “I give their kids credit. They handled our pressure and made some big shots when they had to.
“Our defensive pressure was good at times and we attacked the basket well. We just didn’t finish well.”
Polk County returns to action Wednesday night, hosting Chase.
Polk County Scoring
Jamal Tanner 34, Saquan Miller 17, Wes Brady 6, Wes Mullis 4, Anthony Carson 4, Jordan Smith 1
North Henderson Scoring
Johnny Heim 18, Cory Foster 17, Austin Nelson 8, Ryan Decker 7, Drew Williams 7, Garrett Moore 5, Mitchell Williams 5