AMBOY – December 7. That’s when Polo’s one and only regular-season win came.
The Marcos entered Monday 1-25, with four of those losses to Milledgeville.
But in the Class 1A Amboy Regional opener between the teams, fifth-seeded Polo controlled the action from start to finish and cruised to a 44-26 win over the fourth-seeded Missiles.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for,” Polo coach Jeff Grobe said. “We don’t have any seniors, but the juniors have something to look forward to next year. Hopefully we’re peaking at the right time, get a couple here, and you never know.”
The Marcos, whose only win came over another NUIC East foe, Pecatonica, jumped in front 17-4 and were never seriously threatened.
“We got outworked out of the gate,” Milledgeville coach Kyle Knutti said. “Their girls came ready to play, and our girls came out flat.”
KeeLey Meyer supplied 10 quick points down low as Polo raced to a 14-4 advantage 7 minutes in. The Marcos led 16-4 after the first quarter.
“We all knew we could do it. We never gave up on each other,” said Meyer, who scored a game-high 16 points.
Milledgeville (7-20) was within single digits once after that, as it cut the deficit to 17-8 with 5:45 left in the first half.
Polo responded with a 10-1 burst to end the half, taking a 27-9 lead into the break.
First, Hannah Grobe banked in a 3-pointer. Meyer added a fast-break bucket. Jozi Grobe made a free throw, and Paige Peterson, who scored eight points, stuck in a putback when Grobe missed her second free throw.
Alex Sterenberg, who scored 10 points, beat the buzzer with a basket to put her team up 18.
The Marcos led 32-15 after three quarters.
Milledgeville worked within 11 twice in the fourth quarter, the last instance at 37-26 on a pair of free throws by Jenna Bibler, who scored eight points, with 3:28 to play.
Polo stuck with its 2-3 zone all night, daring the Missiles to beat them from long range. Milledgeville could not do it, going 1-for-24 from 3.
“We tried a new defense, where the two [at the top of the zone] come up higher,” Meyer said. “I think it worked really well.”
“They came out 110 percent, and we came out 50 percent,” said the Missiles’ Taylor Grenoble, who scored five points on 2-for-19 shooting, including 1-for-15 from 3. “We only hit one 3. Usually the 3 is our game.”
Courtney Swalve adeed eight points for Milledgeville.
Star of the game: KeeLey Meyer, Polo, game-high 16 points, 10 in 1st quarter
Key performers: Alex Sterenberg, Polo, 10 points; Jenna Bibler & Courtney Swalve, Milledgeville, 8 points
Up next: Class 1A Amboy Regional semifinal, Polo vs. Amboy, 6 p.m. Wednesday