As regulation stretched into overtime and then double overtime Friday night at Polk County, recent history suggested that the inevitable outcome wasn’t going to be what the Wolverines wanted.
Owen, after all, had won four of its last five games by six points or fewer. Polk County, meanwhile, was 2-3 in games decided by five points or less in a season where getting the right bounce or break at the right time has proved nearly impossible.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, that form held true for both schools. Owen emerged from Friday’s Senior Night tussle as the winner, scoring all seven points in the second overtime for a 68-61 victory over Polk, its second narrow win over the Wolverines in the past 10 days.
As has been the case much of the season, including a 75-74 loss on Jan. 27 at Owen, Polk County (5-16, 3-8) played hard enough to deserve better.
“We gutted it out and played our butts off,” said Polk County head coach Josh McEntire. “We just didn’t catch any breaks. We’re just so close to breaking out and just can’t catch a break or we make little mistakes when it counts.
“Give them credit. They’ve won six straight games the past two weeks and four of those have been by (six) points or less and tonight they won in double overtime. They’re making the plays when they need them. But give my kids credit. They fought their guts out against a very good basketball team.”
How Polk County made it to overtime was a sight to be-Hold(en).
The Wolverines led 55-53 with 31 seconds left before leading scorer Jamal Wheeler picked up his fifth foul with 18.9 seconds remaining. Owen’s Mathew Brown hit one of two ensuing free throws to make it 55-54, and Polk was unable to get the ball upcourt before turning it over on an inbounds play with 17.3 seconds remaining.
Polk’s Dillion Overholt was whistled for his fifth foul at that point, and Owen’s Ben Craig hit two free throws to give the Warhorses the lead. After a Polk missed shot and turnover, Owen’s Brian Bartlett then hit a layup with less than 10 seconds remaining to make it 58-55.
But with time winding down, Polk County sophomore Holden Owens fought through a maze of defenders at the top of the key and launched a 3-pointer that ripped through the net with less than a second remaining, bringing the Polk bench and stands to their feet and sending the game into overtime.
The teams battled to a 61-61 tie entering the final minute of the first overtime when Polk County’s Davis Derkach forced an Owen turnover with 31 seconds left. The Wolverines opted to hold for the final shot, but were forced to take a timeout with five seconds left after a scramble for a loose ball.
On the inbounds play after the timeout, senior Wes Mullis took the pass at the top of the key and battled into the lane to take that shot, but the 6-5 Brown deflected the effort. Jaymes Wingo grabbed the loose ball, but Brown also got a hand on Wingo’s follow at the overtime buzzer, sending the game into the second extra period.
A low-scoring game through the first three quarters, Owen built the only large lead in those periods, taking a 33-24 edge midway through the third. But the Wolverines rallied, with Jayron Bontrager’s 3-pointer late in the quarter cutting the Warhorse lead to 37-36.
Polk County finally pulled ahead at 46-44 with 3:08 remaining in the fourth period on a Wheeler 3-pointer, setting the stage for the final dramatic minutes and overtimes.
Wheeler finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Those 23 points give him 448 for the season, breaking the school record for most points in a season previously held by Otis Miller with 436.
Mullis had nine points and eight rebounds, Wingo had eight, Overholt had six points, Bontrager, Owens and Daniel Painter each had five and Derkach added one point.