Wolverines can’t get needed break in loss to Hilltoppers
Published 1:21 pm Thursday, January 11, 2024
By Jed Blackwell
Polk County needed one play in a big spot on Wednesday night. A basket. A stop at a crucial moment. A turnover.
The play just wouldn’t come, and the Wolverines fought deep into the fourth quarter before R-S Central pulled away for a 70-44 win.
The early going was far from pretty. Neither team scored until nearly four minutes were gone in the contest, and Polk County held a 4-0 lead with 2:41 to play in the first, with the quarter ending at 6-6. The teams settled in, though, and the second quarter saw three ties and four lead changes, including Polk County’s biggest lead at 14-10 following a 6-0 spurt keyed by Gunnar Alm and Khalil Austin.
But R-S Central charged back to a 21-16 lead, and a pivotal play that didn’t go the Wolverines’ way kept it there at the half. Aaron Jackson appeared to score to cut the lead to three at the break, but he was whistled for a charge and the bucket was wiped out.
R-S Central (6-9, 2-1) opened up the lead in the third, but Polk County (2-11, 0-3) rallied. An old-fashioned three-point play by Lawson Carter and three points in two trips by Carmello Young got the Wolverines to within six with 2:33 left in the quarter, and Carter’s 3-pointer with just under a minute left trimmed it back to nine after three quarters.
Polk County had some looks down the stretch. Jackson cut it to seven points on the first possession of the fourth quarter. R-S Central scored four straight, but Jackson again put it back into single digits. He did it one more time a minute later, and the Wolverines got a stop, but they couldn’t convert. R-S Central hit a 3, and Jackson’s 3-pointer to answer looked to be more than halfway down before spinning out.
That seemed to take the wind out of the Wolverines, despite five points from Alm down the stretch, as R-S Central pulled away.
“We haven’t had the same team on the court for any game this season,” head coach Daniel Bradley said. “We’re still learning the game and learning each other and learning to play as a team. As we’re doing that, we’re going to have these growing pains.”
Jackson led the Wolverines with 15 points on the night, while Alm added 13. R-S Central’s Jordan Watkins led all scorers with 18, while Jaden Watkins had 14 for the Hilltoppers.