Hendersonville built a 12-point halftime lead Wednesday and made that advantange hold, defeating Polk County 67-52 in the semifinals of the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference Girls Basketball Tournament in Hendersonville.
The Bearcats improved to 17-8 and will face East Rutherford in the championship game on Friday at 6 p.m. Polk County dropped to 13-11 and will face Brevard on Friday in a special seeding tiebreaker game.
How it happened: Polk County kept pace with the top-seeded Bearcats through much of the first quarter before Hendersonville, keyed by two A.J. Jackson 3-pointers, took an 18-11 lead at the end of the quarter.
The Bearcat defense then largely kept Polk in check in the second quarter, and Jackson continued to set the pace, scoring seven points in the period as Hendersonville took a 32-20 advantage at the break.
Jackson remained hot in the second half and finished with 27 points as Hendersonville kept the lead in double digits throughout the half. Polk did rally late behind Bailey Staton, who hit four 3-pointers and had 16 points in the fourth quarter, and cut the deficit to 10 late in the fourth, but got no closer.
Scoring: Staton finished with 30 points, with Kylie Lewis adding 14. Mia Bradley scored six and Gavionna Carson added two for the Wolverines.
Next up: Polk County and Brevard meet Friday in a 4:30 p.m. game that may well decide whether the Wolverines advance to the state 2A playoffs.
NCHSAA playoff rules state that a team cannot “jump” a team in its conference standings to qualify for the postseason. So if a third-place team in a conference doesn’t have an RPI rating high enough to earn a wild-card berth, then the fourth-place team from the same conference cannot qualify no matter how high its RPI is.
That’s the purpose of Friday’s game – Polk County and Brevard finished tied for third in the MF7 and split all tiebreakers. The winner of Friday’s game will be the third-place team from the conference and the loser will be fourth.
That’s extremely important for this reason – Brevard is currently ranked 33rd in the RPI ratings for 2A West teams. Only 32 teams qualify for the playoffs, so Brevard would miss the playoffs at present. Thus if Brevard wins Friday’s game and doesn’t move up in RPI, Polk County cannot qualify for the playoffs even though the Wolverines are 27th in RPI and would receive a wild card based on that.
Playoff pairings will be announced on Saturday, with the first round set for Tuesday.