Fighting to stay alive in the race for a Blue Ridge Conference berth, Polk County Middle’s boys fought to the final whistle Thursday.
A late rally fell just short, though, as the Wolverines dropped a 41-38 decision to Flat Rock in a BRC basketball battle at Polk Middle.
A close game throughout, Flat Rock (6-4, 5-3) inched ahead in the final minutes, scoring five straight points late in the fourth quarter to take a 39-31 lead with 49 seconds left.
But Polk County (4-6, 2-6) wasn’t deterred. Karlan McEntyre hit one of two free throws with 18.8 seconds left, and Keaundrae Green regained possession and scored with 14 seconds left to make it 39-35.
Flat Rock missed a free throw with nine seconds left, and Gunnar Alm took the outlet pass, raced up the left side of the court and swished a long 3-pointer in transition to cut the Eagles’ lead to 39-38 with three seconds left.
Polk Middle fouled Flat Rock’s Caiden Brewer on the ensuing inbounds play with no time coming off the clock, and Brewer hit both free throws. The Wolverines tried a long inbounds pass, but couldn’t get a clean 3-point attempt off before the buzzer.
The teams swapped baskets and the lead in a fast-paced first quarter that ended in a 13-13 tie.
With Avery Harden scoring 11 of his 15 points in the first half, Polk Middle grabbed a 20-16 halftime lead, but Flat Rock’s pressure defense stymied the Wolverines in the third period, allowing the Eagles to rally and take a 30-26 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
Alm finished with eight points, with Antonio Simpson and Green each scoring six. McEntyre finished with three.
Polk Middle travels to Brevard Middle on Wednesday.