Brian Taylor finally exhaled Thursday.
The Polk Middle girls basketball coach took a long sigh of relief as the Wolverines held off a late Flat Rock challenge to earn a 26-24 win over the Eagles.
The win keeps Polk Middle (3-7, 3-5) in the hunt for a Blue Ridge Conference tournament berth. The Wolverines travel Wednesday to Brevard for a game that likely will decide the final qualifier from the BRC’s East Division.
Though winless, Flat Rock (0-10, 0-8) kept Thursday’s matchup close, the game tied at 15-15 entering the final quarter.
Flat Rock grabbed a quick lead, but Sarah Gray evened the game with a basket, then the Wolverines took the lead for good as Sophia Overholt hit a free throw with 3:59 remaining.
Gray followed with a short jumper, Mia Bradley hit two free throws and Overholt scored on a layup as the Wolverines pushe the lead to 24-17 with 2:39 remaining.
The lead was still at seven with 49 seconds left after Gray hit a pair of free throws, but Flat Rock’s Eba Ladore made things interesting. The Eagle guard scored with 39 seconds remaining, then buried a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left after a Polk turnover to cut the Wolverines’ advantage to two.
Flat Rock looked for a turnover and didn’t foul until two seconds remained. Polk missed its free-throw attempt, but the Eagles were unable to gain possession before the final buzzer.
“Whew,” Taylor said. “We’re just happy to get the win. We pulled that out.”
Bradley had 10 points to lead Polk Middle, with Gray finishing with six. Jayden Duncan had five points, with Overholt finishing with three and Bailey Staton adding one.