POLO – The Hiawatha boys basketball team finally got its offense working in an IHSA Class 1A Polo Regional quarterfinal game against the Poloon Tuesday.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, they already were trailing by 35 points.
The Hawks outscored Polo, 40-22, over the game’s final 13:45, but couldn’t recover from the huge deficit in a 78-61 loss to end their season.
“We started to run through our offense, really execute a lot better in the second half,” Hiawatha coach Danny Klein said. “We moved the ball, found some open shots against their zone, and hit some 3s, which we usually live and die by.
“But our transition defense was pretty poor in the first half, and we couldn’t make up for that.”
Polo (19-7) opened the game with an 11-2 run, and led, 34-11, by the midway point of the second half. The Marcos built the margin to 50-21 at halftime, and led, 56-21, less than 2 minutes into the third quarter.
It was Polo’s high-percentage looks that proved costly. The Marcos scored on 16 layups in the first 18 minute of the game, nine of them coming in transition. They also had 10 points on putbacks off their own misses.
“We wanted to try and run them out of the gym,” Polo coach Matt Messer said. “We had more depth, and we wanted to see if they could keep up. Our fast-break offense really got going, but I wish we would have played more solid defense.”
The Hawks (5-19) exploited those defensive breakdowns. Junior point guard Pancho Garcia did the most damage, scoring 14 points and dishing seven assists as he began to penetrate Polo’s 2-3 zone. He finished off a double-double with 10 rebounds and four steals, and senior post Derek Ross also reeled off a double-double with 13 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
“It was tough to come back being in such a deep hole,” Klein said, “but these kids played hard for me again. They’ve done that all year, and it means a lot to me as a first-year coach.”
Dakotah Quimby hit four second-half 3-pointers and finished with 12 points, while Alex Flores scored nine points and Ed Canchola chipped in eight for Hiawatha.