Down, but never out – so Polk County Middle’s boys basketball team proved Tuesday.
The Wolverines rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to force overtime before falling 60-59 to Rugby Middle in a Blue Ridge Conference matchup at Polk.
The Raiders (7-2), currently in second place in the BRC’s East Division, looked the part of conference leader in the first half. After a Chan Barber basket with 2:05 left in the first period left Rugby with a 10-9 lead, the Raiders unleashed a 23-7 run, building a 33-16 lead late in the second period before settling for a 33-18 advantage at the break.
But Polk County (3-6) roared to life in the third period. Cole Pereira hit two key 3-pointers. Dominique Carson scored 10 points in the quarter. Dakota Twitty began controlling the defensive boards. And the Wolverines played much better defense than in the first half.
By quarter’s end, Rugby’s lead had shrunk to five, and a Twitty driving layup with 2:22 left in the fourth quarter gave the Wolverines a 48-47 lead, their first advantage since early in the game.
Rugby answered with a basket, but Steven Chupp drained a high-arching 3-pointer with 51 seconds left to give Polk Middle a 51-49 lead. Both teams missed free throw opportunities before the Raiders misfired on a 3-pointer, but won a scramble for the rebound and called timeout with nine seconds remaining.
Rugby then scored with four seconds left to force overtime.
The Raiders surged ahead to a 60-55 lead with 56 seconds left in overtime, getting a key 3-pointer to build that lead. Barber then hit a basket to make it 60-57 and set the stage for a wild final few seconds.
With 15 seconds left, Carson poked the ball away from a Rugby player, drove to the basket and scored to make it 60-59. The Wolverines only had three team fouls at that point, so fouling wouldn’t have sent Rugby to the free-throw line. The Wolverines thus opted to try to force a turnover, and that finally happened with two seconds left.
Carson picked up the loose ball on Rugby’s side of the court and took a long heave from near halfcourt that hit the backboard, but bounced away as time expired.
Carson had 20 points to lead Polk Middle, with Barber adding 16. Chupp scored nine points, with Twitty and Pereira each scoring six. Kanye Staley added two points for Polk Middle.
The Wolverines are back in action on Monday, traveling to Apple Valley.