Wolverines race away in second half to secure WHC tourney win

Madison’s 3-point shooting Friday evening gave Brandy Alm a slight case of deja vu. In turn, Alm gave her Polk County Wolverines a directive.

“We’re going to control the tempo, and no more 3-point shots,” Alm instructed.

The Wolverines listened. Polk held Madison to just eight points in the second half and pulled away for a 56-38 victory in the opening round of the Western Highlands Conference girls basketball tournament at Polk.

Polk County improved to 15-7, earned a semifinal matchup Tuesday against Mitchell and made a bit of history, winning a conference tournament game for the first time since 2014. There was no tourney in a couple of those seasons due to inclement weather.

“We just keep making history,” Alm said. “We’ve had a lot of firsts this season. Hopefully they will keep coming.”

Madison (3-21) hit eight 3-pointers earlier this season in upsetting Polk, and the Patriots seemed intent Friday on bettering that total. Madison had four 3-pointers in the first period and three more in the second in building a 30-26 advantage at the half.

Polk County’s Sara Muse draws a foul as she drives to the basket during the second half of Friday’s game.

Polk didn’t let the deficit last long. Olivia Overholt scored five of the Wolverines’ first seven points of the third period to give Polk a lead it wouldn’t lose. At 33-32, Sara Muse drilled a jumper, Kaylin Jenkins hit a free throw, Overholt scored four more points and Jenkins hit a jumper from the wing to give Polk a 42-32 lead late in the third quarter.

Madison sliced that margin in half early in the fourth, but Tori Thompson drilled a 3-pointer from the corner and Overholt hit a jumper to push the lead back to 10. Fighting through Madison’s box-and-one defense, Overholt then canned a 3-pointer to put Polk up 50-37 with 5:24 remaining. The lead never dropped below double digits again.

“We had a game plan and executed that game plan,” Alm said. “Because of that, we were able to run a more successful offense.

“In the second half we stopped their 3-point shooting and stopped their penetration. We played hard.”

Overholt had 20 points to lead Polk, also grabbing six rebounds. Muse finished with nine points and four assists, with Marissa Twitty scoring eight points.

Thompson and Kristen Hall each had six points, with Hall hauling down seven rebounds. Jenkins finished with three points, with Rachael Davis scoring two and Emmie McDowell scoring two with five rebounds.

The semifinal game with Mitchell will be played at Mountain Heritage, with time to be announced.

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