It wasn’t a final margin Monday that represented Polk County’s performance.
The Wolverines, playing their third game in four nights, kept pace with Mountain Heritage for two-plus quarters. But the Cougars and perhaps fatigue finally took command, allowing Mountain Heritage to pull away for a 67-30 victory in a Western Highlands Conference girls clash at Polk.
The Cougars (7-2, 7-2) may have yielded their long-running dominance of the WHC to Mitchell this season, but still field a talented roster led by Western Carolina signee Hannah Tipton and will pose a problem for teams in the 2A playoffs.
Yet Polk County (1-7, 1-7) overcame an 11-2 start and outscored the Cougars for an ensuing period of almost two quarters. Kristen Hall had a pair of free throws, Tori Thompson hit a 3-pointer and Rachael Davis had a pair of baskets in an 8-1 run that pulled the Wolverines within a point at 12-11 late in the first period.
Polk entered the half down 27-19 before a Hall basket to open the third period cut the gap to six. Tipton, though, led a 17-4 Mountain Heritage run, scoring nine points, as the Cougars opened a 44-25 lead by the end of the third period.
“Compared to the way we handled their pressure when we played at Heritage, we looked 100 percent better,” said Polk County head coach Brandy Alm. “We were within six points in the third quarter.
“Foul trouble hurt us. We had a lot of girls step up and play some positions they haven’t played. For almost three quarters, I thought we played a great game.”
Tipton finished with 25 points to lead Mountain Heritage, which also got four 3-pointers and 20 points from Kennedy Wilson.
Sara Muse and Hall each scored eight points to lead Polk County, with Thompson and Davis scoring four. Kaylin Jenkins, Marissa Twitty and Emmie McDowell had two points each for the Wolverines.
Polk County hosts Owen on Wednesday at 5 p.m., that game to air on the NFHS Network, before concluding its season on Friday at Madison.