Polk Middle spoils Hendersonville’s perfect season in unforgettable home finale

Polk County Middle's Steven Chupp drives to the basket during the first half of Monday's game.

Polk County Middle School assistant boys basketball coach Chauncey Barber emerged from the Wolverine dressing room Monday and took a look at the scoreboard, as if to just make certain what he’d just witnessed was real.

“That’s a game they will never forget,” Barber said. “They may forget all the other ones, but they’ll remember that one.”

Maybe not the game of a lifetime for middle school students with much of their lives still ahead, but the Wolverines’ 46-35 win over previously undefeated Hendersonville Middle will be a memory to treasure for a while, for certain.

In their final home game of the season, the Wolverines can remember a third quarter in which they outscored Hendersonville 17-2. They can recall a scoreboard that showed a 20-point lead early in the fourth period. They can recall the final seconds of a signature victory ticking away, a stunned Hendersonville Middle squad silently lining up for postgame handshakes as a happy Wolverine crowd roared with glee.

“This has actually been a hard season. We’ve lost four games on game-winning shots,” said Polk Middle head coach DeShane Briscoe. “To beat the one undefeated team left in the conference and to beat Hendersonville for the first time in four years, that’s impressive.”

Hendersonville Middle (10-1) had been held under 50 points just once all season; Briscoe knew a shootout would be largely unwinnable. So Polk Middle (4-7) looked to keep the pace in check.

The first quarter ended with Hendersonville up just 8-6. Polk reached halftime with a 15-12 lead, holding the Bearcats to four points in the second period.

And then came the third.

The Wolverines put up the first six points of the quarter before Hendersonville added a pair of free throws, making the Wolverine lead 21-14 with four minutes to go.

Shortly thereafter, Steven Chupp dribbled through most of the Bearcat defense, drove into the lane and kicked a pass outside to Dominique Carson, who buried a high-arching 3-pointer to make it 24-14.

Carson then added two free throws. Barber scored on a rebound. Carson dropped in a fast-break layup. Barber hit a jumper from the wing. Suddenly it was 32-14 at quarter’s end and Hendersonville had managed just six points in two full periods.

Carson, Barber, Chupp, Dakota Twitty, Cole Pereira – each made key contributions in that span.

“The most important thing we did was slow the game down,” Briscoe said. “They played hard. They gave all they had for all four quarters.”

The lead reached 20 points early in the fourth before Hendersonville Middle made the run everyone expected. The Bearcats cut the lead to nine by the midpoint of the period, then got it to seven with 56 seconds left.

But Carson and Pereira hit 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch and Twitty and Barber grabbed key rebounds and soon the celebration was on.

“(Polk County football coach Bruce) Ollis spoke to them before the game about composure,” Briscoe said. “Then Coach Barber talked to them about playing hard for four quarters. And they went out and did it.”

Carson finished with 23 points, with Barber adding 16, Twitty scoring five and Pereira adding two.

The Wolverines close out their regular season on Tuesday at Flat Rock.

No way can that one be as exciting.

Polk Middle’s Dakota Twitty looks to score inside during Monday’s victory.