POLO – Courtney Cobert airballed her first shot attempt Wednesday night in Erie's Class 1A Polo Regional semifinal against the hosting Marcos.|
However, the Cardinal junior more than made up for it the rest of the night, finishing with 21 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and three assists in a 62-45 victory.
That not only secured a 20-win season for the second-seeded Cardinals (20-9), but assured a three-match with Three Rivers Conference rival Prophetstown (26-3) in Friday's regional championship game.
The top-seeded Prophets pounded Ashton-Franklin Center,69-40, in the first of the two semifinals Wednesday.
State-ranked Prophetstown stopped Erie in a pair of TRAC showdowns this season, including 47-37 last Friday.
Erie 62, Polo 45: To reach the expected title tilt, Erieanswered a 10-2 Polo run to end the third quarter by opening the fourth period with a 14-4 run of its own. Cobert scored 10 of her 21 in the final frame, hitting six of her eight free-throw attempts over the final 1:29 to seal the deal.
"The coaches really got after us in the timeout between quarters," Erie senior Paige Rus said, "and it really opened our eyes. We didn't want to miss the chance to play Prophetstown again, so we went out there and started playing our usual game and finally got comfortable running our offense."
Polo (9-17) took its only lead of the game at 2-0, but was within four (23-19) with 1:04 to play in the first half, and made things interesting with the third quarter closing run.
Rus finished with 10 points and five rebounds; Des Lawson added 11 points and four boards.
Laykin Miner (five rebounds, four steals) and Rachel Cobert (eight rebounds, four assists, four steals) also stuffed the scorebook for Erie, which outrebounded the hosts 44-21.
"Once we started getting out in transition, that really fired us up," Cobert said. "We got some putbacks, we ran our offense better, and we just kept rolling with it."
Prophetstown 69, AFC 40:The Prophets opened the game with a 17-6 run, and also scored the first 14 points of the second quarter to blast back to the regional finals.
Riley Walters had 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the reigning five-time regional champs. Cassie Reiley also finished with 15 points and three assists.
"We were hot tonight," Reiley said. "We knew what was in store for us with their zone defense, but we got the ball to Riley [Walters] for baskets down low and she returned the favor for us guards – and we converted, too."
The Prophets finished 7-for-16 from beyond the 3-point arc, while AFC (11-16) hit only 13-of-58 shots from the field against a hounding defensive effort.
"Usually we run things through me, and I look to kick it out to my shooters," Walters said. "But tonight, they weren't always collapsing in on me, so I was able to take the ball to the basket. Then, when they did come at me, I found Cassie and the other guards outside.
"Coach [Don] Robinson told us we'd win with effort, hustle and smarts. We controlled the tempo, got them going way too fast, and they threw up shots they maybe didn't want to take."
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