Heartbreaking losses. 

Season-ending injuries suffered by two players. 

Playing in a holiday tournament with six of eight participating teams ranked in the top 25 in their class by MaxPreps.

Losing 53-0 at halftime to Morton.

It's been a challenging season for the Pekin girls basketball team. But the Dragons are showing some fight.

They lost 51-39 Friday night to Metamora in a Mid-Illini Conference game, "but I thought it was the best game we played all season," said Pekin coach Brett McGinnis.

"Our girls played hard. The final score doesn't reflect the closeness of the game," McGinnis said.

Host Metamora (14-3, 4-1) led 22-13 at halftime but just 31-25 after three quarters. The Redbirds pulled away in the final quarter at the free throw line, where they went 12-for-17.

Illinois Central College volleyball recruit Alicia West led Metamora with 17 points and Anne Peters had 11.

Pekin (3-15, 1-5) got 13 points from Taylor Goss, eight from Jenna Taphorn and seven from Gracie Kizer. Goss was 5-for-6 on free throws.

"We all realize by now that's it's going to be a tough season," McGinnis said. "There's a new coaching staff, a new system, we have young players ... Our girls are frustrated. Everybody wants to win. We need to stick together, and keep doing the right things to get better.

"Our girls are learning, and I'm learning. This is my first time coaching girls and my first time as a head coach."

As for the holiday tournament, Pekin played in the Charleston Holiday Tournament during the final week of 2018.

Coming into the tournament, the eight participating teams had a combined record of 74-23. Pekin and Danville owned 15 of the 23 losses.

The Dragons lost all five of their tournament games. Their first two losses were to undefeated Tri-County and Charleston.

Pekin's Remi Wagemann suffered a broken arm in the Tri-County game and is out for the season. The Dragons lost Tess Cascia to a knee injury in November.

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.