When the Polo Marcos are hitting their perimeter shots, there's not a lot any defense can do to stop their offense.
Factor in a strong transition game and 6-foot-7 senior AJ Dollmeyer in the post, and the Marcos have numerous weapons at their disposal. Polo hit eight of its 17 3-pointers Dec. 16 against Oregon, and outscored the Hawks 18-7 on the fast break en route to a 78-47 victory in the quarterfinals of the Forreston Holiday Tournament.
"When teams actually try to guard AJ in the middle, that really makes them draw in their defense," Polo senior guard Brian Cavanaugh said.
"That leaves the rest of us wide open to take outside shots, make good cuts, and drive the lane." Cavanaugh was responsible for all three of those things at one point or another against Oregon (3-6).
He missed just two of his 11 shots, and hit four runners off the wing in a span of 3:20 to open the second half and put the game away for the Marcos.
After an early blitz gave Polo (8-0) a 22-9 lead with 2:49 left in the first quarter, the Hawks whittled away at the deficit. But when Oregon got to within 26-23 early in the second on Trevor Otten's coast-to-coast three-point play, the Marcos answered in the form of a 9-0 run.
Matt Murray's 3 with 8 seconds left looked to get Oregon into halftime on a high note, but Austin Webb's half-court buzzer-beater hit nothing but net to extend the lead to 44-30 at the break.
"They shot the ball really well, and we couldn't stop the ball in transition," Oregon coach Quinn Virgil said of the Marcos. "I was happy with the way we played in the first half, but I thought that half-court shot was a big momentum swing. "We'd whittled away to within shouting distance, then he drills that shot, and it took away what I thought would be a good chance to make a surge to start the second half."
Instead, Cavanaugh and Co. were the ones making the surge. Dollmeyer (12 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks) scored inside and Zach Quaco (10 points) hit two free throws in the midst of Cavanaugh's spurt, then Brad Cavanaugh (11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) hit two technical free throws and a pull-up jumper to cap a 13-0 run and extend a 46-33 lead into a 59-33 margin with 11˝ minutes left to play.
Brian Cavanaugh finished with 20 points, while Matthew Handel hit five 3s made it five Marcos in double figures with 17 points. Polo shot 54 percent (29-for-54) and turned the ball over just six times.
"We were really in the flow tonight, and had great balance" Brian Cavanaugh said. "Everyone was taking good shots and making good decisions. Hopefully, we can play like this every game."
Jessie McKinley led the Hawks with 14 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two assists. Otten added 12 points, with two 3s and two three-point plays.