Polk Middle looks to score against the Canton Middle defense (photo courtesy Brad and Tina Muse)

The ending did not ruin the story in any manner for Michelle Fagan.

Wednesday’s 33-16 loss to Canton Middle in the championship game of the Blue Ridge Conference Basketball Tournament was not the season finale that the Polk County Middle girls basketball coach hoped to see. But the setback in no way diminished what the Wolverines did accomplish during the 2023-24 season.

“Not the outcome we expected, but I’m extremely proud of this team,” Fagan said. “They had many great accomplishments and improvements this season. They were a joy to coach as they worked hard, believed and had great team chemistry on and off the court.

“Truly a classy group of young ladies.”

One of Polk Middle’s strengths this season was its defense, and the Wolverines (12-3) held Canton to just four points in the opening quarter. But the Bears (12-2) were equally stingy, as they showed in their upset of East Division co-champion Hendersonville Middle in the tournament semifinals.

Canton held Polk to just four points in the opening quarter, then a single Reeve Carroll free throw in the second quarter in taking a 12-5 halftime lead. The Wolverines managed just 11 second-half points as Canton continued to keep the Polk attack in check.

Carroll finished with seven points, with Honesty Jackson scoring five and Sofie Abrahamsen scoring four.

Led by a core group of eighth graders, Polk Middle finished the regular season as East Division co-champions. The Wolverines then won their first two tourney games, including a victory at West Division champion Macon Middle, to reach the tournament championship game.