Polk’s defense spot on, but Mitchell tops Wolverines in men’s basketball

Published 2:31 pm Monday, January 5, 2015

Wolverine defense is right where head coach Josh McEntire wants it, as evidenced here by Polk's D.J. Twitty blocking a shot attempt by Mitchell's Jamison Burleson, in the Mountaineers' 52-37 win at Columbus last Friday. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

Wolverine defense is right where head coach Josh McEntire wants it, as evidenced here by Polk’s D.J. Twitty blocking a shot attempt by Mitchell’s Jamison Burleson, in the Mountaineers’ 52-37 win at Columbus last Friday. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

“We’re right where we want to be defensively,” Polk County varsity basketball coach Josh McEntire emphasized after visiting Mitchell tripped his Wolverines, 52-37, on Friday, Jan. 2.

“If the offense and defense are both there, “McEntire predicted, “we’ll win some games.”

As with the women’s game just before, Polk’s men released a number of early shots that barely missed their mark, helping the conference rival Mountaineers lead 16-9, after the first quarter, and 26-13, at the half.

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However, in the third quarter, after Mitchell led 29-13, the Wolverines enjoyed a 15-point run, to come within a point, before Mitchell edged ahead. The Mountaineers were up by just five with eight minutes remaining, but outscored their hosts 19-9, in the final quarter.

Polk, 1-9 overall (and 1-2 in conference play), must have the best team with that winning percentage, and, as McEntire noted, simply needs to hone its offense.

On Friday, both the Wolverines and Mountaineers played stellar defense, with Mitchell’s Nate Waycaster scoring 13 points to top all scorers. Polk’s Jamal Wheeler was next with 12.

“It’s pretty simple,” McEntire observed after the game. “We took off two weeks (for the holiday break).” Though the Wolverines were able to practice, McEntire noted that practice and game experience are different.

Part of Friday’s difference was Mitchell’s winning the battle of the boards, with “too much standing around (by Polk)” and not following up on rebounds, according to McEntire.

Much of Mitchell’s fourth-quarter success was due the Mountaineers’ ability to outrebound Polk, and make follow-up shots, as neither team enjoyed particularly hot shooting from the field. That was a testament to fierce defense on both sides. Polk defenders, including D.J.Twitty, blocked plenty of Mitchell shots.

Once the Wolverines went on their offensive tear, “we stymied them until about the middle of the fourth quarter,” McEntire added. “Then Mitchell figured it out.”

“I still think we’re going to get there,” McEntire promised. With a largely young squad that keeps improving, better things should be on the way.

This evening, the Wolverines visit Avery County. On Jan. 7, they host A.C. Reynolds. Next Monday evening, Jan. 12, they host North Henderson, with Owen’s Warhorses coming to Columbus on Jan. 13. Games are slated to begin at 8 p.m.