Pekin's defense was effective. East Peoria's offense was not.

Those two factors contributed to a 47-30 victory Saturday night for the Dragons in a Mid-Illini Conference boys basketball game at East Peoria's Allison Gym.

"I'm proud of our guys for how they played defense. East Peoria has some shooters," Pekin coach Jeff Walraven said after the Dragons' fourth consecutive win, all in conference games.

The Raiders shot just 34 percent from the field (12-for-35) against Pekin, including 4-for-21 on three-pointers.

"Give credit to Pekin's defense, but we're not making shots," said East Peoria coach Jon Grzanich. "The same thing happened at Dunlap last night."
Dunlap beat East Peoria 47-35 on Friday night with the visiting Raiders shooting 28 percent from the field (12-for-43).

"There were gaps in Pekin's zone defense, but we couldn't get the ball there," Grzanich said. "That forced us to shoot from the perimeter more than we wanted."

Pekin's zone is a 2-3 the Dragons (11-11, 7-3) have been playing all year.

"That defense fits best with our personnel, and our guys are starting to figure out the nuances of it," Walraven said.

East Peoria (8-13, 2-8) shot just four free throws Saturday, making two, and the Dragons had nine steals. Pekin's Jack Halstead, who scored 18 points, had three of those steals as did teammate Mitchell Cascia.

Still, the game was up for grabs at halftime. Pekin led 18-13 at the break.

A basket by East Peoria's Elijah Bennett made it 18-15, but the Dragons scored the next eight points to move in front 26-15 and they led 28-17 heading into the fourth quarter.

"I called a time out in the third quarter because I could see our guys were frustrated because our shots weren't falling," Walraven said. "I told them to keep working hard on the defensive end. You can still win ugly."

Pekin's offense came to life in the fourth quarter. Two triples by Max Jones and another by Halstead gave Pekin a 37-20 lead with 3:20 to go in the game, and that was that.

Cascia and Jones each had eight points for Pekin and Jace Link had seven points. Cascia, Link and Patrick Torrey each took down five rebounds and Link had four assists.

The Dragons were 12-for-14 at the free throw line and shot 41 percent from the field (15-for-37).

Cole Morton led East Peoria with 13 points, but the 6-foot-3 senior was an uncharacteristic 5-for-18 shooting including 1-for-10 on three-pointers. Jack Skaggs had six points for the Raiders.

Mid-Illini leader Morton (17-8, 9-1) is the next team on the Pekin and East Peoria schedules.

The Dragons and Potters will meet this Saturday at Hawkins Gym. East Peoria will travel to the Potterdome on Feb. 16.

TWIN INJURIES: Justin Taphorn didn't play in Pekin's games Friday at Canton and Saturday at East Peoria. The sophomore was wearing a boot on his left foot after suffering a sprained ankle Thursday.

Taphorn's twin sister Jenna Taphorn plays for the Pekin girls basketball team. She's also sidelined with an injury.

SOPH TOUCH: The Pekin sophomore boys basketball team put on quite a shooting display Saturday in a 76-47 win over East Peoria.

All 12 Dragons scored, and eight combined for 12 three-point shots. Tyler Durr led Pekin with 17 points and Mason Bennett had 10.

Steve Stein can be reached at stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.