Polk girls left frustrated after close loss to North Buncombe

Polk County's Taylor Newton fights for one of her seven rebounds during Tuesday's action.

Playing well and nearly upsetting 3A North Buncombe were of little consoliation Tuesday night for Polk County’s girls basketball team.

That the Wolverines were so close to a win left frustration as the reigning emotion of the evening.

North Buncombe closed the night with a 12-4 run in the final four minutes, holding off a determined Polk County team for a 45-38 non-conference victory.

The Black Hawks (8-12) entered as the third-place team in the Mountain Athletic Conference and coming off a win over a very good T.C. Roberson squad. But Polk County (1-18) more than held its own for the entire game, taking an early lead and keeping it much of the way.

A barrage of 3-pointers from North Buncombe’s Avery Odum kept the Black Hawks close in the second half, and the game finally turned North Buncombe’s way in the final three minutes.

An Autumn Owen layup at the 2:29 mark left the Wolverines in good position, trailing just 37-36, but the Black Hawks got a 3-pointer on their next possession, then sealed the game at the foul line as Polk County would only score once more, that a basket by Haley Fowler with 44 seconds remaining.

“It seems like this hurts worse,” said Polk County head coach Brandy Alm. “I felt like it hit the girls a lot harder, knowing that a few adjustments here and there might have made a difference.

“In the first half, they had three field goals, but scored the rest of their points on free throws. Knowing we bailed they out so many times, because they hit their free throws, is tough.”

Polk County led 8-3 early in the game and 13-9 early in the second period, but the Black Hawks fought back at the foul line, hitting 12-of-18 free throws in the first half to take a 19-16 lead at the break.

A wild third quarter featured four 3-pointers by Odum, including three straight in the final three minutes. But Fowler and Taylor Newton have played well since joining the varsity, and the two teamed with Owen to help keep Polk County close in the period, the Wolverines trailing 33-30 entering the final quarter.

“We continue to play hard for whole games,” Alm said. “At times, our execution wasn’t where it should be. We had a lot of mental breakdowns. They applied a lot of pressure to us that affected us.”

Owen had 18 points to lead the Wolverines, with Mariah Overholt scoring eight despite battling foul trouble. Fowler added six points, Ava Marino had four and Bella Marino and Karli Wood each had two points. Newton had seven rebounds and Fowler added four steals.

Polk County wraps up a four-game homestand on Wednesday, hosting Landrum at 6:30 p.m.