Thursday was "Tacky Christmas Sweater Day" at Polk County High School. If Emily Wilson is assured more performances like the one she had Thursday, every game day might be "Tacky Christmas Sweater Day", even if she's the only one participating.
Wilson scored 32 points and the Wildkittens earned their first win of the season by edging Silverdale Baptist Academy 67-64. Polk finally was able to get over the hump after eight losses to start the season, but even then they nearly lost a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and had to sweat out a missed 3-pointer by Megan Lewis at the buzzer.
The Polk senior added eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a pair of blocks for good measure, countering a 38-point performance by the Lady Seahawks' Mariah Massengill.
"I think we're starting to come together as a team," Wilson said. "The start of the season was frustrating, and tonight the game started to slip away, but we were able to hold on to get a win tonight.
"I was ready to win, and I think tonight shows we're coming together."
On the strength of its ball movement and rebounding (13 offensive rebounds), Polk led for all but a minute of game time. The lead peaked at 15 in the first half as Polk started out hot and Silverdale did not.
"Their whole team got into a groove, but I told my team that we had to weather the storm," Silverdale coach David Massengill said. "We fought to the buzzer."
A layup by Rachel Epperson gave Polk a 64-54 lead with under four minutes remaining, but Silverdale responded with a 10-2 run. Mariah Massengill had a steal and a layup to make it 66-63 with 1:09 left, and then an Abbie Alosi free throw made it a two-point margin.
Polk missed some free throws down the stretch to make it interesting, but one by Riley Hatcher provided just enough of an edge to pull out the win.
"We came out really strong in the first half and shot the ball well," Polk coach Johnny Hayes said. "Emily's been needing a good night; she's our go-to girl.
"It was nice to get a good win tonight."
Haynes added 12 points for the Wildkittens, while Lewis had 13 for Silverdale (6-3).
"I'm proud of our team for not laying down -- being down 20 and battling back in it," Coach Massengill said.