Pardon DeShane Briscoe if he aged a bit more rapidly Thursday evening.
Polk County Middle closed its regular season and very successful second half with a nailbiter of a final, holding on to defeat Flat Rock 43-42 in a Blue Ridge Middle School Conference matchup at Polk.
The Wolverines (5-7) led by nine, 39-30, with 3:15 remaining in the game, but a winless Flat Rock determined to end its season with a victory fought back, troubling Polk with its full-court pressure and sudden aggressiveness on offense.
The Eagles cut the deficit to 41-40 with 29 seconds left. Polk’s Dominique Carson then hit the first of two free throws, with Flat Rock grabbing the rebound on the second. But Polk’s Nate Henderson quickly stole the ball away, and the Wolverines retained possession until 15 seconds remained, when Carson added another foul shot for a 43-40 lead.
Flat Rock scored with 10 seconds left to make it 43-42, bur the Wolverines were able to avoid being fouled after inbounding the ball until two seconds remained. Carson missed two foul shots, though, and Flat Rock grabbed the rebound and called timeout with a second left to play.
The Eagles tried throwing the ball the length of the court to a player charging toward the basket, but were unable to complete the play, ending the game.
The win will send Polk Middle into BRMSC tournament play on Monday with victories in five of their final seven games, giving the Wolverines plenty of confidence.
“I feel really good,” said Briscoe, wrapping up his first regular season as Polk Middle’s head coach. “We probably will be playing at Canton. We lost to Canton at the beginning of the season (34-24). That was our first game, and we’ve changed a lot since then.
“The main thing is we’re practicing hard. You play the way you practice, and we started practicing hard the second half of the season and playing solid defense.”
Flat Rock (0-12) hit four 3-pointers and Polk Middle hit three in the first half, which ended with Polk surging ahead to a 23-16 lead. Flat Rock cut the margin to six late in the third period, but a Tyler Staley 3-pointer and Henderson three-point play pushed the Wolverines ahead 33-21 at the end of the third.
Polk upped the lead to 14 early in the fourth period before the Eagles began to rally, setting the stage for the final theatrics.
Carson had 14 points to lead Polk Middle, with Staley adding 10. Henderson finished with seven, with Shane Parris adding five, Chan Barber scoring four, Wesley Royster scoring two and Dakota Twitty adding a point.