GIRLS BASKETBALL: Miscues foil Polk’s hopes of upending East Rutherford

Published 9:32 am Monday, January 22, 2024

Polk County often proved its own worst enemy Friday, and that certainly didn’t help its cause in trying to take down the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference leaders.

The Wolverines committed 25 turnovers and struggled at the foul line, a deadly combination in a 55-47 loss to East Rutherford in Bostic.

Polk (9-7, 3-2) finished 5-for-17 at the free-throw stripe, and that plus the turnover woes played a key role in spoiling the Wolverines’ hopes of upending the Cavaliers (16-2, 6-0).

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East Rutherford held a 29-24 lead midway through the third period, but held Polk County to a single basket over the rest of the quarter, then opened the fourth period with a 10-3 run. That stretch gave the Cavaliers a 46-29 lead and largely settled the final outcome.

The Wolverines, though, did not go quietly. Polk trailed by 15 with 35 seconds to go, but scored eight points in 30 seconds to pull within seven. Steals by Mia Bradley and Charley Dusenbury led to Bailey Staton baskets during the run, which pulled Polk within 54-47 with six seconds to go.

East added a free throw for the final margin.

Kylie Lewis had a huge game for Polk, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Kiera Littlejohn had a team-high 14 rebounds, though the Cavaliers held her scoreless.

Staton finished with 13 points, with Dusenbury adding seven. Bradley had five points and seven assists.

Jada Whitesides led East Rutherford with 23 points, 10 of those in the fourth quarter.

Polk County will travel Tuesday to Brevard for another MF7 battle.