Late Chase surge spoils Polk’s gritty comeback

A second half full of momentum swings Monday tipped the wrong way in the end for Polk County.

The Wolverines staged a huge third-quarter comeback, fighting back from a 12-point deficit, but then saw Chase overcome a seven-point deficit in the final four minutes to claim a 73-68 victory in a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference boys basketball matchup at Polk.

The wild changes in momentum eventually meant a seventh straight loss for Polk County (6-12, 0-10), which is now assured of a seventh-place finish in the MF7 and will face either R-S Central or Hendersonville when the league’s postseason tournament opens next week. Chase improved to 4-16, 3-7.

That Chase ultimately won on Polk’s Senior Night, though, did not take away from the second-half surge the Wolverines delivered.

The Trojans first gained command in the final minute of the second quarter, closing with an 8-0 flurry, including Logan Houser’s 3-pointer from a couple of steps inside the half-court line at the buzzer, to grab a 35-26 halftime lead.

Chase pushed the advantage to 12 early in the third period, but Kanye Staley’s three-point play brought Polk’s offense to life as the Wolverines began forcing turnovers with defensive pressure, limiting Chase’s second-chance opportunities and finding points in the lane.

Dominique Carson followed Staley’s basket and foul shot with a layup and a pair of free throws, and suddenly the Wolverines trailed by five at 38-33.

Chase countered with two baskets, but Isaiah Spears drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to begin a 10-0 Polk rally. Kris Littlejohn capped that spurt with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Wolverines a 43-42 lead with 1:58 left in the period.

Polk built the margin to seven early in the fourth quarter and kept it there at 62-55 with 4:19 remaining. But Chase slowly began to chip away, finally evening the score at 64-64 just inside the two-minute mark.

Polk took its final lead at 65-64 on a Littlejohn free throw, but Harrison Branch answered for Chase with an offensive rebound and putback while being fouled. Branch missed the ensuing free throw, but Jermany Harris grabbed the rebound and drew another whistle, and his two foul shots gave the Trojans a 68-65 edge with 1:21 to go.

Polk missed a pair of 3-point shots, and Kaynyn Dewberry hit a looping jumper from the wing with 41 seconds left to up the lead to 70-65.

Carson answered with a 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining to make it 70-68, and the Wolverines fouled Dewberry with 15 seconds left. He made his first attempt before missing his second, but Branch corraled the rebound and scored to seal the win for the Trojans.

Polk County returns to action Wednesday, hosting East Rutherford in another conference clash.

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