Polk County Middle’s Leah Dotson tried to complete a fast break during the first half of Tuesday’s game

Polk Middle shakes off slow start, tops Brevard Middle

Slow start aside, Michelle Fagan was just glad Tuesday to see Polk County Middle back on the basketball court against an opponent.

If all goes well, she’ll be even happier Thursday to see her full team back in action.

Playing for the first time in almost two weeks, Polk Middle shook off the rust from that layoff and pulled away in the second half to defeat Brevard Middle 27-18 at Polk.

The win keeps Polk Middle (6-1) in second place in the Blue Ridge Conference’s East Division and likely secured a tournament berth. The Wolverines close their regular season Thursday at Rugby and could claim at least a share of the East Division title by defeating the Raiders.

Polk had trouble early finding any type of offensive rhythm, and Brevard (2-6) took advantage, taking a 9-6 lead at halftime.

But the Wolverines quickly tied the score in the third period on a Kylie Lewis basket and Bailey Staton free throw, then took the lead for good on Tali Thompson’s jumper from the right wing.

Staton scored on a fast break, then added a free throw with 35 seconds left to give Polk a 14-9 edge, the Wolverines outscoring the Devils 8-0 in the quarter.

“We finally got back in a groove,” Fagan said. “We went on a good run there and found some intensity we had lost.”

Gavionna Carson’s three-point play, layup and free throw, off an inbounds set upped the lead to 17-9 before Brevard finally scored in the first minute of the final quarter.

The Blue Devils made it 17-13 before Charley Dusenbury and Jayden Duncan hit layups to up the lead to 21-13. A Dusenbury steal lead to a Staton layup with 3:21 to go, giving the Wolverines a 10-point cushion that would largely remain until the final whistle.

Staton had eight points, with Lewis adding seven. Duncan had four while Carson and Thompson each added three and Dusenbury added two.

The game marked the final regular-season home game for Lewis, Carson, Thompson and Kiki Littlejohn, all eighth graders. Polk’s other eighth grader, Mia Bradley, missed the game but is expected to return at Rugby.

“I’m proud of those eighth graders,” Fagan said. “We were missing one today, but I’m looking forward to getting her back and going off to Rugby with a full squad.”