Sometimes, you have to cool down to get hot.
Following a third quarter Thursday in which Polk County Middle scored just two points, falling six points down to undefeated Hendersonville Middle, Wolverine head coach Michelle Fagan collected her starters and a couple of reserves and headed outside the gym door near the Polk bench.
No yelling, no impassioned pleas. Just a couple of minutes in the brisk January air to refresh and refocus.
“They’re hot. I was hot,” Fagan said. “Let’s get some fresh air, talk about what we need to do and they got redialed back in.”
Seven points down with 4:13 to go, the Wolverines never let the Bearcats score again, indeed dialing in their own offense for a game-ending 12-0 run that gave Polk Middle a 34-29 victory.
The Wolverines (6-2, 5-1) now sit tied atop the Blue Ridge Conference East Division with Hendersonville (7-1, 5-1). A second pass through the rest of the conference awaits both teams, with Polk Middle starting that journey on Monday at home against Flat Rock.
Fagan would gladly take an effort to mirror Thursday’s.
“I’m just really proud of our defensive effort tonight,” she said. “We had a special game plan, and we stuck with it. We got a little out of control offensively, but we’ve been talking a lot about being more disciplined and recognizing when we’re a little bit scattered to slow things down.
“I thought minus a couple of times, we were able to reel things back in. So that showed a lot of discipline and maturity and I’m just extremely proud of them.”
The Wolverines’ winning run began innocently enough with 4:07 to go as Kenzie Alm hit a pair of free throws. Sofie Abrahamsen powered inside for a layup and Reeve Carroll snared a rebound and drove the length of the court for a layup. Suddenly Polk trailed by one, 29-28, with 3:28 remaining.
Hendersonville decided to try to slow down things, letting point guard Samiyah Smith dribble around the perimeter. That worked for a while, but after an exchange of turnovers, Polk forced another and inbounded the ball to Carroll, who spun around Smith in the backcourt, raced into the frontcourt and into the lane, where she dished a pass to Amiyah Waters, who scored with 1:37 left to give the Wolverines the lead.
Carroll followed seconds later with another end-to-end drive for a layup and the lead was three. Honesty Jackson added her own driving layup with 39 seconds left to help seal the win.
Carroll finished with 11 points to pace Polk Middle. Abrahamsen and Waters each scored seven and also grabbed numerous rebounds to keep Hendersonville’s offense in check.
Jackson had five points, with Jill Brown and Alm each adding two.