Polk ends conference frustration with rout of Avery

An outcome never in doubt still had plenty of significance Friday for Polk County’s girls basketball program.

The Wolverines snapped a 21-game Western Highlands Conference regular-season losing streak, rolling past Avery 59-19 in their first home game of the new year.

Not since a 61-47 win over Hendersonville on Feb. 7, 2017 had Polk (9-1, 1-0) notched a conference victory. The Wolverines wasted no time Friday making certain it would be the night for that string to end, racing to a 24-11 halftime lead and steadily building the margin throughout the final two quarters.

“Our first conference win in three years and the second time since I’ve been coaching that we beat Avery,” said Polk County head coach Brandy Alm. “We played well. We played very hard defensively. We created a lot of offense through our defense.

“We’re very aggressive. We moved a few players around in different spots in our trap and really created a lot more turnovers from Avery.”

Polk County scored the first 11 points of the game, all coming from Marissa Twitty and Olivia Overholt, and built an 11-2 lead at the end of the first period. An Emmie McDowell 3-pointer and two Sara Muse free throws midway through the second quarter stretched the margin to 22-4 before Avery rallied to make it 24-11 at the half.

But the Wolverine defense continued to harass Avery in the second half, limiting the Vikings (1-10, 0-1) to just eight points in the half, including two in the fourth quarter.

Overholt had 23 points and five steals for Polk and unofficially tied a school record with 10 field goals in a game. The school record book lists that as the mark set by Hayley Kropp in the 2015-16 season.

Tori Thompson had 16 points with four steals while Twitty finished with eight points and five rebounds and Muse had five rebounds and four steals to go with two points.

Kristen Hall had four points, with McDowell adding three and Rachael Davis scoring two. Emily Prince added a point for Polk.

The Wolverines will head to Madison on Tuesday with a chance to reach 10 wins for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

“I think we’ve grown tremendously over the pre-conference games,” Alm said. “We’re playing well together.”

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