Sweetwater got its postseason started off with a bang on Friday night in the district semifinals, cruising to a 77-68 win over Polk County behind the strong play of the Wildcats’ senior class.
Sweetwater’s Dominique Oggs scored the opening five points of the game. Polk County knocked down a couple free throws, but it was the Wildcats of Sweetwater who were hot out of the gate.
Matthew Kile scored with a baseline reverse layup, Oggs rebounded a Kolbe Billingsley miss and put it back up for two. Next trip down the floor, it was Kile underneath for two, followed by a triple from Oggs. With 3:40 left to play in the first, Sweetwater led 14-3.
Polk County found a little rhythm, knocking down a few shots and completing a 4-point play. But before the quarter came to a close, Kile added five more points (a field goal, and two free throws), Oggs added three, and Jayce Upton added three. After one quarter of play, Sweetwater was out front 24-14.
The second quarter again started in Sweetwater’s favor. Polk County was called for an offensive foul and Austin Long knocked down a triple. Kile found Oggs for two. With six minutes remaining in the half, Sweetwater led 29-14.
Kile took another trip to the free throw line, this time going 1-2. Polk knocked down a 3-ball. Oggs continued to knock it down from deep. Conner Pippen rebounded a Sweetwater miss, and put it in for two. Polk County knocked down a pair of free throws. Upton and Billingsley each added a basket for Sweetwater with a Polk County trey in between. Pippen again reeled in the offensive board and put it back up. Polk County took another trip to the free throw line but could not convert.
At the half, Oggs had 18 points and was 4-4 from deep. And it was Oggs who scored first in the second half.
Luke Burrows was pouring it on for Polk County, knocking down shot after shot. Billingsley added a triple to his stat line. With 5:30 remaining in the third quarter, Sweetwater was in charge of a 46-32 lead.
Polk County threatened with a 10-6 run late in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 10 with two minutes left in the quarter. Both teams had an opportunity for a 3-point play, but neither could make good on the free throw. After three quarters of play, Sweetwater was holding on to a 7-point lead.
Upton would score the next four points for Sweetwater, two of them coming from the free throw line. Sweetwater brought out the full court defense in an attempt to slow Polk County’s offense. Upton deflected one pass out of bounds, while Billingsley broke up the next one, sending out of bounds off a Polk County knee.
Each team traded baskets the next few trips up the floor. Upton picked up his fourth foul chasing after a rebound. With under three minutes remaining in regulation, Sweetwater’s lead was back to 10 with a score of 69-59.
Billingsley picked up his third foul, sending Burrows to the line in single bonus. He knocked down the first free throw, missed the second, reeled in the rebound and put it back up to cut the lead to seven once more. Kile pushed the floor and drew the foul inside, sending him to the line where he went 2-2. A Billingsley steal and fast break resulted in him being fouled and sent to the line where he also went 2-2. Burrows knocked down a shot for Polk County, but it was Billingsley again on the drive for Sweetwater, drawing the foul and knocking down two free throws.
With a minute remaining, Sweetwater led by 11. Oggs was fouled on the next Sweetwater possession, and he sunk both free throws. Polk County would score the next 4 points, but with 3.7 seconds remaining and the possession with Sweetwater who was in charge of a 77-68 lead, time was not on Polk County’s side.
The ball was inbounded to Oggs, who held it for the remaining 3.7 seconds, and the Sweetwater Wildcats advanced to the District 5AA Championship, which was set to be played on Tuesday night, to take on their county and district rival Sequoyah.
In a game where free throws can be game changing, Sweetwater was 18-24, while Polk County was 16-22.
Sweetwater’s Oggs led all scoring with 26. Billingsley finished with 16, while Kile added 12 for Sweetwater.