ASHTON – The Polo Marcos scored the first two buckets against the AFC Raiders Saturday night in the AFC Thanksgiving Tournament.
The Marcos didn't look back, steadily increaskng their lead en route to a 78-63 victory in the championship game.
Polo outscored the Raiders in the closing moments of all four quarters. AFC answered the runs, but not enough to overcome the deficit completely.
"Their sights are set very high," said AFC coach Russ Zick about Polo, "and they ought to be because they're really good. We are just working our way there. We're happy that we are getting better defensively and offensively. We just have to figure out how to rebound better, and minimize second-shot opportunities. Most of it was that Polo beat us in most of the facets of the game tonight."
The Marcos' rebounding charge was led by junior AJ Dollmeyer, who pulled down almost half of Polo's rebounds. Dollmeyer finished with 19 of Polo's 44 rebounds to compliment his 27 points, despite battling foul trouble that cost his most of the second and third quarters.
"Dollmeyer did a real fantastic job of working his tail off inside," Polo coach Matt Messer said. "His teammates were able to find him, and the thing that helped him was that we got him in early offense, before they were able to get help over onto him. Even when he didn't have a good look, he was able to power up through a lot of plays and score."
With Dollmeyer on the bench for most of the third quarter, AFC big man Troy Mairs took advantage. The senior knocked down five shots and a pair of free throws to tally 13 of his 24 points in the quarter. However, like most of the night, the Marcos found an answer to Mairs. That answer was Brian Cavanaugh.
The athletic winger started the quarter perfect from the field on four attempts, all coming from explosive drives that ended with easy finishes around the rim.
"I just try to play as fast as I can." Cavanaugh said. "Try to push the ball and get my teammates open by driving hard to the lane, and finding them. Usually I am looking for AJ inside. We have a lot of options to go to, but I just found some holes that I drove into, and the shots were going in."
With a 10-point deficit heading into the fourth, the Raiders turned to Bret Gittleson.
With Dollmeyer focusing on Maris, Gittleson started making shots. After knocking down two layups, Gittlesone snapped from behind the arc by hitting three straight 3-pointers.
Mairs and Gittleson combined for 31 of AFC's 38 second-half points.
Polo's answered with Dollmeyer, who closed the game out with a prefect shooting percentage after hitting three from the free-throw line and four buckets down low. In the end, Dollmeyer won the battle of the bigs.
"Mairs is a great player." Dollmeyer said. "Every time we see each other, its always a battle between us. He is a great player, and we kept going back and fourth."
Both big men finished with double doubles with Mairs scoring 24 points and grabbing 18 boards.
Polo won the rebound and turnover battles, 44-38 and 18-14 respectively. Tightening up on defense is what sealed the deal, as the Marcos eventually shut down Mairs and Gittleson to quiet the AFC offense.
"Fourth quarter, we just made a concerted effort to make sure we knew where he [Mairs] was at and try to at least get a hand in his face," Messer said. "In the third quarter, we were losing him, and he was burying shots time after time. We just made a more concerned effort, and we tried to on Gittleson in the fourth quarter, but he just kept burying shots on us."
Star of the game: AJ Dollmeyer, Polo: 27 points, 19 rebounds
Key performers: Troy Mairs, AFC: 24 points, 18 rebounds; Brian Cavanugh, Polo: 16 points, 5 rebounds; Bret Gittleson, AFC: 18 points
Up next: Durand at Polo, 7:30 Friday; Orangeville at AFC, 7:30 Friday;