No one had to tell the Polo boys basketball team that regional championships weren’t easy to win.
Talented teams of the past 9 years fell short, but the 2018-19 Marcos finally busted down the door keeping them out of sectionals.
Polo held off a furious charge by Aquin at the Class 1A Durand Regional championship game, coming out on top 77-74 in a game that had the pace of an Olympic ping-pong match.
“It’s about the relief of being hunted all year,” Polo coach Matt Messer said. “We were picked to be the best team in the conference, and there’s relief in accomplishing what we knew we could do.”
Polo (26-3) will have a chance to tie the school record for wins in a season against River Ridge in the East Dubuque Sectional semifinals on Tuesday.
Aquin (16-16) trailed 63-47 after three quarters, but got back into the game from the free-throw line and beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs entered the bonus with 6:47 left, and made all six of their free throws to start the fourth. Brennan Carlson and Tyler Broge canned back-to-back 3s to cut Aquin’s deficit to 67-59 midway through the fourth, as the Marcos struggled with turnovers.
The frenetic pace was set by both teams right away, as the Marcos led 21-14 after one. Brady Webb scored seven of his 17 points for the Marcos in the first 8 minutes.
“It was about taking what the defense gave me,” Webb said. “I know we have guys who can score. Being a senior, you have to know what’s best to help the team win in games like these.”
After the Bulldogs had cut their deficit to eight early in the third, Braidon Soltow answered with back-to-back 3s to make it 52-38 Marcos.
Polo ended the third on a 9-2 run. Webb scored five straight points on a 3 and two free throws, Justin Young made a layup off a crisp pass inside by Hammond, and Soltow nailed a baseline jumper just before the buzzer.
Aquin shot 43 percent (25-for-58) from the field and 33 percent (11-for-33) from 3-point range.
The Marcos shot an efficient 57 percent (29-for-51) from the field, as Young finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.