Depleted, but still determined.
Playing without its two leading scorers, Polk County’s regular-season finale didn’t quite play out Friday as the Wolverines might have hoped. Brevard’s Liz Chapman hit six 3-pointers and finished with 26 points as the Blue Devils scored a 53-29 victory.
Yet the final result, which prevented the Wolverines (12-8, 7-5) from clinching the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference’s second playoff berth, mattered less to Polk head coach Brandy Alm than the nature of the game.
With seniors Olivia Overholt and Tori Thompson competing in the state indoor track and field championships, Alm knew that Brevard (7-12, 5-7) might offer a stiff challenge. Polk pulled out a 10-point win in the teams’ first meeting, with Overholt scoring 22 points.
The Blue Devils were able to harass Polk with their full-court pressure from the outset, yet the Wolverines hung tough and trailed just 6-4 at the end of the first period. Chapman, though, began to find her range in the second period, and the Blue Devils pulled away to a 22-8 advantage at the break.
Down 19 early in the third period, Polk finally began to find some offensive rhythm. A pair of Mia Bradley baskets and two Kinsley Huskey free throws brought the Wolverines within 13 midway through the quarter. And though Polk got no closer, that stretch and the remainder of the half caught Alm’s eye.
“I’m proud of the way the girls stepped up,” she said. “With the two girls we depend on to handle the ball competing in the state track meet, I was proud of the way everyone stepped up, especially in the second half.
“We made some adjustments, and the girls played hard and never gave up. I can’t say enough good things about how hard they played.”
Kylie Lewis led Polk County with 12 points, with Mia Bradley scoring six. Brianna Gray added four points, with Sarah Gray scoring three.
Gavionna Carson and Huskey each had two points.
Polk County will host an opening-round game in the MF7 postseason tournament on Monday. Pairings for the tournament will be finalized on Saturday. The Wolverines finished tied with R-S Central for second place in the conference, and a draw will be held Saturday to determine which team is seeded second and which team is seeded third.
The team with the best outcome in the tourney will earn the league’s second automatic playoff berth. The two teams could meet in the tourney semifinals on Wednesday with wins on Monday.