The kids did all right Tuesday for Polk County.
With R-S Central focused on stopping Wolverine seniors Olivia Overholt and Tori Thompson, Polk’s stable of freshmen provided enough support to help the Wolverines notch a 64-59 victory in a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference matchup.
Kylie Lewis had a season-high 13 points, Mia Bradley had a season-high 12 points and Kiera Littlejohn and Gavionna Carson led a Wolverine rebounding effort among the team’s best showings this season.
“The younger kids are playing with more confidence and it showed, to step up and play like they did tonight,” said Polk County head coach Brandy Alm. “They’re starting to figure out how to get position (rebounding), and that was evident on the offensive end.”
All of those performances were needed as Polk (7-2, 3-0) battled both foul trouble and R-S Central’s talented backcourt duo of senior Joyasia Smith and sophomore Jada Whitesides. The two entered each averaging more than 22 points per game and teamed for 52 points in the loss, with Smith scoring 29 and Whitesides scoring 23.
The duo led a late charge as R-S Central (5-9, 1-1) fought back from nine down early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 55-55 with 3:39 left. That also served as the point when Bradley, tasked with guarding Smith most of the night, fouled out.
But the ensuing 40 seconds proved vital for Polk. Thompson calmly drilled a 3-pointer from the wing, and Overholt followed an R-S basket with a drive into the lane and a short jumper that also resulted in Smith’s fifth foul. Overholt made the free throw for a 60-57 lead with three minutes remaining.
Whitesides added a layup with 1:23 left, but Lewis scored twice in the final minute to seal the win.
“I’m very pleased with our effort,” Alm said. “We made adjustments to the game when we needed to do so and we executed at the end.
“We’re still learning at the end of the game when to pull back and when to look to go to the basket. I definitely think we’re getting the hang of that.”
While Polk’s freshmen proved instrumental in the win, its seniors still led the charge despite facing a triangle-and-two defense for most of the evening. Overholt had 18 points and Thompson finished with 15.
The Wolverines grabbed an early 6-4 lead as Overholt opened with two 3-pointers and never trailed, leading by as many as 12 in the first half before Smith and Whitesides led a second-quarter rally that resulted in a 29-25 Polk halftime lead.
The Wolverines again pushed the advantage into double digits in the third period and led 49-40 entering the fourth quarter.
Overholt, Bradley and Thompson each drew their fourth fouls in the first three minutes of the final quarter, and R-S responded with an 8-0 run that led to the 55-55 tie and set the stage for Polk’s late charge.
Littlejohn added six points for the Wolverines, who travel Thursday to face East Henderson in a non-conference matchup.