POLO – Courtney Cobert airballed her first shot attempt Wednesday night in Erie’s Class 1A Polo Regional semifinal against the Marcos, and heard about it from the Polo student section the rest of the night.
But the Cardinal junior more than made up for it. She finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and three assists in Erie’s 62-45 victory.
The Cardinals (20-9) answered a 10-2 Polo run to end the third quarter by opening the fourth period with a 14-4 run of their own. Cobert scored 10 of her 21 in the final frame, hitting six of her eight free-throw attempts over the final 1:29 to seal the deal.
"The coaches really got after us in the timeout between quarters," Erie senior Paige Rus said, "and it really opened our eyes. We didn't want to miss the chance to play Prophetstown on Friday [in the regional championship], so we went out there and started playing our usual game and finally got comfortable running our offense."
Polo (9-17) took its only lead of the game at 2-0, but were still within four (23-19) with 1:04 to play in the first half. But again Erie closed out strong, scoring the final five points of the second quarter to take a 28-19 lead into the locker room.
"Our weakness is we have don't have a lot of subs; when teams run on us, it wears us down," Polo senior Aleetra Roberts said of the Cardinal spurts at the end of each half. "We got things to work for awhile on offense, especially in the third quarter, but we couldn't keep it up."
Both teams turned the ball over early, but neither could take advantage with points on the other end. But the Cardinals killed the Marcos on the boards, outrebounding them 44-21, and Erie scored 14 second-chance points to Polo's five.
"Once we started getting out in transition, that really fired us up," Cobert said. "We got some putbacks, we ran our offense better, and we just kept rolling with it."
With the focus on stopping Roberts and Keeley Meyer inside, Erie did give up some outside looks – and Polo really made them hurt in the third quarter. Alina Llanas hit a pair of 3s, and Kelsey Taylor hit a long 2 during the big run over the final 4:02 of the third.
But Rus kept the Cardinals in it, scoring seven of her 10 in the period, and then Cobert and company took over down the stretch to finish things off.
Rus finished with 10 points and five rebounds, while Des Lawson added 11 points and four boards. Laykin Miner had six points, five rebounds and four steals, and Rachel Cobert chipped in five points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Llanas led Polo with 15 points, hitting five of her 10 3-point shots, and also had three assists and two steals. Roberts finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four steals, and Meyer had 10 points and six boards. Taylor chipped in eight assists and four rebounds, and Brecken Albrecht had four points, six steals and three assists.
"Things finally started clicking for us in the third quarter," Llanas said, "and we started making them play our game to get back in it. But we couldn't slow it down enough, and they just had too many athletes in the end."
Class 1A Polo Regional semifinal
Erie 62, Polo 45
Star of the game: Courtney Cobert, Erie, 21 points, 11 rebounds, 6 steals, 3 assists
Key performers: Paige Rus, Erie, 10 points, 5 rebounds; Rachel Cobert, Erie, 5 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 1 block; Alina Llanas, Polo, 15 points, 5 3-pointers, 3 assists, 2 steals; Aleetra Roberts, Polo, 12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals
Up next: Class 1A Polo Regional championship, Erie vs. Prophetstown, 7:30 p.m. Friday