Wayne Carson finished with five points Friday and helped lead a late Polk rally

A stirring comeback in the final two minutes Friday ended just short for Polk County, which dropped a 69-65 decision at Avery in varsity boys basketball play.

A nip-and-tuck battle throughout, the two teams were tied at 51-51 midway through the fourth quarter when Avery put together a 13-3 run. Brooks Berry and Oak Markland each hit 3-pointers in the surge, which gave the Vikings a 64-54 lead with 1:44 remaining in the game.

But the Wolverines refused to go quietly in the head coaching debut of Daniel Bradley. A Wayne Carson free throw and Aaron Jackson rebound cut the margin to 64-57, and Carson hit a driving layup with 1:14 remaining to make it 64-59.

Mason Bailey hit one of two free throws with 1:08 left to make it 65-59, but Jackson hit a free throw at the 59-second mark and, following a turnover, Gunnar Alm hit a pair of free throws to make it 65-62 with 49.4 seconds to go.

Polk County forced another Avery turnover, and Alm hit a running jumper in the lane to make it 65-64. Polk’s Avery Harden was then fouled on a rebound on Avery’s end, and the senior hit one of two free throws with 26 seconds left to tie the score.

Avery’s Landon Harmon returned the lead to the Vikings with 17 seconds left, the burly 6-3 center driving the lane and hitting a layup. Polk worked Alm free in the lane, but his driving shot spun in and out of the goal, and Berry hit two free throws with three seconds left to seal the win.

Alm led Polk County with 21 points, with Jackson scoring 16 and Antonio Simpson adding 10.

Harden had eight points, with Carson scoring five, Damon Williams adding three and Avrey Hensley scoring two.

The two teams will meet again Tuesday at Polk County in the Wolverines’ home opener.