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Oregon wins tournament 52-40 over Polo

Oregon's Megan Buttens (left) and Polo's Natalie Nelson dive for a loose ball during the first quarter of Thursday's game in Polo.
Oregon's Megan Buttens (left) and Polo's Natalie Nelson dive for a loose ball during the first quarter of Thursday's game in Polo.

Two weeks ago when Polo lost to Oregon in basketball, it was a heavy dose of Olivia Lambrigtsen and Jenae Bothe that gave the Marcos fits.

The finals of the Polo Girls Basketball Christmas Classic proved to the same story on Dec. 19, with the pair combining for 39 points in Oregon's 52-40 win.

"Like I said last time, it's pick your poison," Polo coach Jeff Grobe said. "Bothe is so strong in the middle and Olivia got hot on us, even when we had a hand in her face."

Lambrigtsen was on fire in the first half, scoring 20 points on a variety of shots from all over the court. Throw in numerous steals, assists and rebounds, and there was little Polo could do about her.

"We knew it start to start with defense tonight and we're solid because we share the ball," Lambrigtsen said.

A prime example of this was Lambrigtsen breaking the press, finding Bre DeHaan in the middle of the court and DeHaan passing to Bothe under the basket for a wide-open score to make it 42-24, shortly after Polo went on a 7-point run when Lambrigtsen was taking a breather.

Though she didn't score in the second half, Lambrigsten did all she could to find open teammates. Typically, she would make a steal, drive the length of the court and fed Bothe.

The Marcos had no answer for Bothe in the second half. She had 10 of the 14 second-half points for Oregon, and also helping her team to a 40-30 rebounding advantage.

"With both Olivia and I scoring, we put more pressure on the other team's defense," Bothe said. "We've become more balanced, not just with the two of us, but the whole team."

Coach Wendy Lambrigtsen agreed with that assessment.

"It was a fantastic team effort," she said. "We also won the physical battle and really controlled the boards."

A major focus for Oregon was to contain Polo's 3-point shooting. Whenever Mallory Patterson, who made six treys in Tuesday's win over West Carroll, had the ball, the Hawks relentlessly hounded her.

"We definitely wanted to take away that perimeter threat," said Lambrigtsen, who could be heard yelling "get on No. 4", anytime Patterson touched the ball.

Patterson, who led Polo with 11 points, hit a 3 to start the game, but did not score again until the second half.

"(Oregon) watched the game and saw what Mallory did. Wendy came in with a good game plan to stop her," Grobe said.

Freshman Lindee Poper scored four points to keep the Marcos within 16-11 early in the second quarter, but Oregon pulled away after that.

Lauren Montavon got into the act with an offensive rebound and putback and DeHaan nailed a 3 for a 26-11 Hawk lead.

Marah Blake sparked the short-lived Marco rally in the third quarter. A 3-pointer by Nicole Boelens made it a 50-40 score with two minutes left in the game, but Oregon's defense completely shut down Polo the rest of the way.

"We started slow and anytime we do that, we have problems," Grobe said. "I was good to see we had some energy at the end."

Still, Grobe was pleased with the runner-up finish at his school's own tournament.

"In all my years of coaching, I've never made it to the finals in anything," the 11th-year mentor said. "It was a great tournament for us. Beating Newman was big and then we made a last-second shot to beat Pecatonica."

Besides the 11 points by Patterson, Blake added eight and Poper and Alex Dusing six each for Polo (4-8). Patterson and Blake were named all-tournament, along with Lambrigtsen and Bothe.

Oregon (7-6), which last won the Polo tournament when Sam Lambrigtsen was playing, moves on to a much larger scale of competition at the Dixon Tournament next week.

"We'll be going from playing against 1A to 3A with Sterling up next," coach Lambrigtsen said. "That's a big jump."

All tournament team selections were: Mallory Patterson, Marah Blake, Polo; Adrianna Miller, Milledgeville; Alexus Houston, Megan Hagemann, Forreston; Madison Haynes, West Carroll; Josie Rank, Macaire Brown,Newman; Olivia Lambrigtsen, Jenae Bothe, Oregon; Maddy Carlson, Pecatonica; and Kenzi Klecker, Freeport.