Polk County girls basketball: Youth movement powering Wolverines this season

The only driving most of Polk County’s girls basketball team will do this year will be on the court.

It’s a full-fledged youth movement this season for the Wolverines as seven of the team’s 10 players are either freshmen or sophomores. There is experience and athleticism within that young group, though, and that has head coach Brandy Alm eagerly looking forward to Tuesday’s season opener at home against Piedmont Community Charter.

Look for the Wolverines to be aggressive on both ends of the court, working to push the ball offensively when possible.

“I think our transition game is going to be our strength,” Alm said. “We’re so athletic. We’ve got our secondary break and they run the court well.

“And they’re smart defensive players. They’re starting to figure out when to gamble and not to gamble.”

Familiar faces down low: Leading the list of returnees is sophomore post Kylie Lewis (7 ppg, 6 rpg), an All-Mountain Foothills 7 Conference selection last season. She’ll be joined in the frontcourt by another sophomore returnee, Gavionna Carson, and freshman Jayden Duncan.

The team’s lone senior, Kayleigh Wilson, will also see time in the post, and versatile sophomore Mia Bradley (5 ppg, 4 rpg) may also rotate in that area. Polk will be without sophomore center Kiera Littlejohn, sidelined with an injury.

“She’s injured, but she’s still part of the team,” Alm said. “She’s going to help us coach, she’s talking to the post players and helping us get better.”

Old, new on the perimeter: Polk County’s backcourt will include two of the more experienced players on the team as well as two exciting newcomers.

Juniors Brianna and Sarah Gray are in their third season at the varsity level and should contribute to Polk’s outside shooting attack. Joining the Grays will be freshmen Bailey Staton and Charley Dusenbury, with Bradley also a factor on the perimeter.

“Charley sees the court well. Her basketball IQ is through the roof,” Alm said. “And then Bailey Staton, she just goes as hard as she can every second. We’ve got to slow her down sometimes, but besides that, defensively, she’s aggressive and plays intense basketball.”

Around the league: East Rutherford dominated the Mountain Foothills 7 in its debut season and looks to be the team to beat again this season. Boosting the Cavaliers’ fortunes is guard Jada Whitesides, who transferred to East after averaging 21.7 points per game last season at R-S Central.

Hendersonville and Brevard should also battle for a spot in the upper echelon of the conference, with Polk County, Patton and Chase likely just behind. The Trojans do return several players and have adopted a new offensive approach that could make them a surprise factor in league play.

R-S Central has a freshman-dominated roster and is facing a rebuilding job under first-year head coach Nicole Hansen.

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