East Rutherford tops Polk, completes perfect run through conference 

Published 1:54 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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By Jed Blackwell


As the only 1A team in the Mountain Foothills Conference, Polk County has a different set of goals as the regular season winds down and heads toward the playoffs.

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On Tuesday night, though, the Wolverines fell short against an East Rutherford team that has ripped through conference play undefeated, falling 86-53. Senior post Taniyah Cash played a huge role in the win for East Rutherford.

“We played a very good team tonight,” Polk County coach Brandy Alm said. “We did a lot of good things. But we turned the ball over more than I’d like, and our defense wasn’t as strong as it usually is, and their post player is a phenomenal athlete. She can shoot from anywhere on the floor, and she runs the court well.”

Cash missed the teams’ first matchup, and the Wolverines were able to exploit her absence inside. Tuesday, she was back with a vengeance. She scored a game-high 24, all in the first three quarters, and hit three 3-pointers as the Cavaliers (22-2, 12-0) blew the game open.

“That obviously made a huge difference,” Alm said. “But we battled. We always battle, and they have such big hearts.”

Polk County (13-9, 7-4) looked to be on the verge of a mercy-rule loss early in the third quarter, but that tendency to battle kicked in. A deficit that reached as many as 32 at one point was trimmed to 22 before East Rutherford again pulled away.

“We’ve got to do a better job making adjustments,” Alm said. “But we’re learning. Passes that usually get through got picked off. They scored some extra baskets and the wind was knocked out of our sails. But we kept fighting.”

Jada Whitesides scored 21 for the Cavaliers, while Kadence Vanover scored 15 and Bella Harris added 14.

Mia Bradley scored 14 to lead the Wolverines, with Kylie Lewis adding 12 and Bailey Staton chipping in 10.

Polk County will close its regular season on Thursday, hosting Brevard.