OREGON – Bree Tourtilott zipped a pass from right of the key across the lane to a cutting Emylyn Wright, who finished with a smooth-looking layup late in the fourth quarter.
At that point Wednesday night, the jitters were clearly gone, and the rout was on for the Oregon Hawks against Polo in the opening game of the Oregon Tournament for both teams.
The Hawks (1-0) beat the Marcos 55-37.
“We had a lot of jitters in the first half,” Tourtillott said. “This is really the first time we’ve played together as a team on the varsity level. We lost some players from last year, and we have new girls filling in.”
Polo (1-1) fought tooth-and-nail with a much deeper Oregon squad through three quarters. The Marcos had it as close as two points at 31-29 late in the third before Wright scored the last five points of the quarter to put Oregon up 36-29.
“I think we just ran out of gas,” Polo coach Jeff Grobe said. “We’re just not quite in basketball shape yet, but I’ll take that effort in every game. They play hard like that the rest of the year, and I think we’ll be able to make some noise at the end of the season.”
The Marcos dressed just eight girls.
Oregon put the game away using the press and converting turnovers into points. Three minutes into the fourth quarter, the lead had extended to 10 points at 43-33.
“We started playing defense instead of committing fouls,” Oregon coach Kristy Eckardt said. “Early in the game, the girls had a lot of jitters and that caused them to make mistakes.”
In the first half, it was the Marcos who were impressive in the half-court set.
The secret was feeding senior forward Aleetra Roberts.
“We made adjustments early, and we ran the offense really well,” Roberts said. “I think we got a little tired at the end of the game and didn’t handle their press as well.”
Roberts scored 17 of her game-high 21 points in the first half, which kept the Marcos within five points at 26-21. She also had six rebounds. Guard Brecken Albrecht had nine points, two steals and two assists.
Oregon was led by Devyn Absher, who had 10 points and eight rebounds. Wright finished with nine points, all coming in the second half.
The Hawks were without guard Sam Lambrigtsen, who was dressed in street clothes on the bench. Eckardt refused comment on why Lambrigtsen didn’t play, saying that it was a “personal situation” and that Lambrigtsen would return to the court in early December.
Oregon also lost Lexi Smith, who started much of last season and was expected to be the Hawks’ top post player. Smith transferred to Bolingbrook during the offseason.
Star of the game: Aleetra Roberts, Polo, 21 points, 6 rebounds
Key performers: Brecken Albrecht, Polo, 9 points, 2 assists, 2 steals; Devyn Absher, Oregon, 10 points, 8 rebounds; Emylyn Wright, Oregon, 9 points.
Up next: Oregon Tournament – Polo vs. Amboy, 7:15 p.m. today; Oregon vs. Amboy, 7:15 p.m. Friday