Polk County senior Avery Harden powers to the basket for two of his 14 points in Thursday's game

Final minute Thursday of Polk County’s 81-61 loss to Brevard, and Wolverine head coach Daniel Bradley stepped onto the court, flagged down an official and called a timeout.

Strategy was not on Bradley’s mind. Saluting his three seniors, very much so.

As Lawson Carter, Avery Harden and Carmello Young walked off Polk County’s court for the final time, Bradley greeted each with a warm hug. The wins and losses this season may not have been what any of the group wanted, but Bradley’s appreciation for each made that largely moot anyway.

“Three great young men,” Bradley said. “Good scholar-athletes, and that’s what we like to have. High character guys. They’ve been positive in the locker room all year long. They could have cut and run, but they didn’t. They stayed with it and they continued to work hard every day.

“Two of them, I watched grow up. This group means a lot to me. I’m sad to see them go, but glad that I had the opportunity to be with them.”

Early in the evening it appeared that the seniors might receive a winning farewell. Aaron Jackson and Gunnar Alm led an early Wolverine run, driving Polk County (3-20, 1-11) to a 14-5 lead midway through the opening quarter.

But Brevard (14-10, 7-5) has been one of the hottest teams in the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference of late, and 6-6 senior standout Tre Crite and junior Eli Griffin began to lead the Blue Devils back, evening the score at 16 by the end of the quarter.

Alm’s 3-pointer at the 5:14 mark of the second period snapped a 17-0 Brevard run, and the sophomore added another to make it 25-22. But the Blue Devils put together another surge, closing the quarter with a 16-5 spurt to take a 41-27 advantage at the half.

The 33-9 Blue Devils outburst over the first and second quarters effectively decided the game.

“We had a spell where we quit attacking the rim and got a little intimidated by their size,” Bradley said. “Then in the third quarter we had a really tough spell where we turned the ball over a lot trying to force the ball and made some bad passes.”

Alm finished with 21 points to lead Polk, with Jackson scoring 17 and Harden adding 14. Nolan Simpson finished with nine points for the Wolverines.

Polk County will begin play Monday in the MF7 postseason tournament. Pairings will be determined Saturday.

Polk County’s Lawson Carter heads upcourt during the second half of Thursday’s game
Polk County senior Carmello Young takes aim at the basket during the second half of Thursday’s game