Late flurry lifts Mountain Heritage past Polk County

Published 12:17 pm Sunday, December 31, 2023

The closing minutes weren’t quite as good Friday for Polk County.

A day after a late fourth-quarter rally led to an overtime victory, the Wolverines saw a shot at a second straight triumph slip away down the stretch, Polk falling 59-54 to Mountain Heritage in the Knights 11th Annual Christmas Tournament at North Henderson High School.

The Wolverines (2-9) took a 46-45 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but trailed 47-46 when Mountain Heritage’s Jace Loven drilled a long 3-pointer, making it a 50-46 lead with 3:30 remaining.

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Polk’s Gunnar Alm answered with a layup off a pass from Antonio Simpson, and Lawson Carter’s 3-pointer with 1:18 to go following a Cougar basket made it a 52-51 game.

But Max Gilley answered with a short jumper for the Cougars (4-7), and a blocked shot on the other end led to two Loven free throws with 25.6 seconds left for a 56-51 edge.

At 57-51, Polk’s Avery Harden drained a long 3-pointer with nine seconds to go to cut the lead in half, but Loven hit two foul shots with 4.2 seconds left to seal the win.

Polk led 30-23 at halftime, but Loven hit four 3-pointers in the third period to help Mountain Heritage grab the lead late in the quarter. Loven finished with a game-high 31 points.

Alm led Polk with 12 points, with Simpson, Aaron Jackson and Carter each scoring 10. Harden finished with seven points, with Khalil Austin adding five.

Polk County will kick off the 2024 portion of its schedule on Jan. 5, hosting Hendersonville for a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference matchup.