Flat Rock pulls away late to top Polk Middle boys

Flat Rock’s pressure defense wore down Polk County Middle on Thursday, the Eagles pulling away in the second half for a 39-20 victory in a Blue Ridge Conference boys basketball matchup at Polk.

The Wolverines (4-6), playing without leading scorer Aaron Jackson, fought back from a first-half 10-point deficit to pull within 15-12 early in the third period. Polk Middle then countered an Elijah Stokes 3-pointer with an Avery Hensley layup to trail 18-14 with 2:58 left in the quarter.

But the Eagles (5-3), playing a mix of full-court and half-court pressure, began to force a series of Polk Middle turnovers, and Flat Rock’s Isaac Schultz hit back-to-back 3-pointers to boost the Eagle advantage to 24-14 by quarter’s end. Schultz also had a traditional three-point play early in the fourth quarter as the Flat Rock lead grew to 28-14 with 3:48 remaining.

The Wolverines continued to battle, though. Nolan Simpson hit a basket to stop Flat Rock’s 10-0 run and Hensley hit a short jumper in the lane to cut the deficit to 28-18 with 3:31 remaining. But that would be as close as Polk Middle would get, the Eagles closing the game with an 11-2 run over the final three minutes.

A tight first quarter, highlighted for Polk by Piercen Edwards’ late 3-pointer, turned Flat Rock’s way early in the second quarter as Jaylon Brewer drilled consecutive 3-pointers and Seth McCarson added a layup for a 14-5 Eagle lead.

Polk Middle answered as Hensley hit a free throw, Khristian Littlejohn drove to the basket for a short jumper and Simpson turned a steal into a basket to trim the deficit to 14-10 with 37 seconds remaining. Flat Rock got a late free throw for its 15-10 halftime lead.

Simpson had eight points to lead Polk Middle while Hensley finished with seven. Edwards had three points and Littlejohn had two for the Wolverines.

Polk Middle is scheduled to begin the final week of the regular season on Tuesday, traveling to Brevard Middle, though the pending winter storm could affect those plans.

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