For a time Monday afternoon, it appeared Polk County Middle had found the formula to upset undefeated Hendersonville Middle.
The Wolverines were largely controlling the boards, keeping the Bearcats’ transition game in check and beginning to find holes in Hendersonville’s half-court 1-2-2 defense. Two free throws from Beija Olivari early in the third period tied the score at 16-16 and looked to set the stage for a down-the-stretch nailbiter.
But Hendersonville holds a perfect record for a reason, and the Bearcats showed it, moving to a full-court press that troubled Polk Middle and paved the way for a 43-23 Blue Ridge Conference East Division victory.
The final margin did not reflect the competitiveness of the game.
Hendersonville (8-0) grabbed an early 5-0 advantage. But Polk Middle (6-3) began to find some offensive rhythm, especially late in the second quarter.
Down 15-8, Polk’s Cate Brown drilled a jumper from the wing, Olivari scored inside and Brown completed a fast break with a driving half-hook of a layup that cut the margin to 15-14. Hendersonville added a late foul shot for a 16-14 lead at the break.
The Bearcats followed Olivari’s free throws in the third period with an 8-0 run before Raney Tallon broke that surge with a layup off a nice entry pass from Honesty Jackson.
Sofie Abrahamsen’s two free throws just before the end of the period sent Polk into the fourth down 28-20.
But Hendersonville scored the fourth period’s first four points, allowed a Brown free throw with 3:27 left, then two Reeve Carroll free throws with 1:45 to go. That would be Polk’s only points in the final quarter as the Bearcats slowly pulled away for the final margin.
Brown led Polk with 11 points, with Olivari and Abrahamsen each scoring four and Carroll and Tallon each scoring two.
Polk Middle will look to bounce back on Thursday, hosting Flat Rock in a 4:30 p.m. game.