It didn’t take long Friday night to see the Pekin boys basketball team’s response to its sub-par performance in its previous game.
The Dragons made their first five shots against visiting Dunlap, raced to an 11-0 lead, and cruised to a 47-33 victory in Hawkins Gym in a Mid-Illini Conference game.
Pekin’s execution Friday against the Eagles was a far cry from its 36-33 loss to conference foe Limestone six days earlier on the Dragons’ home court.
“You hope to see growth from your team during the season, and I saw it (against Dunlap),” said Pekin coach Jeff Walraven. “I talked after the Limestone game about our energy level being low, but after watching the film, the real problem is we played the game at their (Limestone’s) speed.”
The Dragons were in control Friday. Dunlap coach Corky Card noticed.
“Pekin executed its offense very well against us,” Card said. “They moved the ball around and made their open shots. Their defense was good, too. We got some good looks, but we didn’t make many of those shots.”
Patrick Torrey once again was a tower of strength inside for the Dragons (9-11, 5-3). The 6-foot-7 senior had 14 points and 10 rebounds, six of them offensive.
Tyler Durr had 10 points and Brady Grashoff had nine for Pekin. The Dragons’ Max Jones had six points and Justin Taphorn had five points and six rebounds.
Torrey was 6-for-9 and Grashoff was 4-for-5 from the field as Pekin shot 46 percent (19-for-41) including 6-for-17 on triples.
Pekin’s Ryan Collier had two points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal in 15 minutes of playing time along with something that doesn’t show up on a box score: solid defense.
“Patrick (Torrey) is going to get his points and rebounds. We need our perimeter guys to step up, and they did (Friday),” Walraven said.
Cody Baer, Dunlap’s 6-7 senior center, scored a game-high 16 points. Kyle Hawthorne had seven points and five rebounds for the Eagles (5-16, 1-7), but five of his points came in the game’s final two minutes long after the outcome had long been decided.
Pekin led Dunlap 18-7 after the first quarter and 29-11 at halftime. Card did everything he could in the first half to kill the Dragons’ momentum, calling four of his team’s five allotted time outs, two in each quarter.
Pekin’s momentum evaporated briefly at the start of the second half.
Dunlap scored eight straight points after intermission to cut the Dragons’ lead to 29-19. Pekin had three turnovers, three missed shots and no points in the second half midway through the third quarter.
A drive to the hoop by Durr with 3:31 to go in the third quarter ended the Dragons’ scoring drought and after a basket by Baer, Taphorn nailed a three-pointer from the corner that put out the Eagles’ fire.
Taphorn’s triple ignited a 12-point Pekin run that sent the Dragons in front 43-21 with 4:44 left in the game. A three-point play by Torrey and a three-pointer by Jones finished the flurry.
“Justin (Taphorn’s) triple was big. We did a good job setting up his shot,” Walraven said.
Card said the game had a familiar look to it.
“We need to keep our good stretches going longer and shorten our bad stretches,” he said. “That’s been a problem for us this season. Also, we had 14 turnovers against Pekin’s 2-3 zone. We’ve got to do better than that.”
GAME NOTES: Dunlap was 1-for-2 on dunks. Kyle Hawthorne (6-foot-4) misfired on a one-hand slam and Cody Baer (6-7) had a two-hander off an alley-oop pass within about two minutes of the second quarter. The Eagles shot 37 percent from the field (15-for-41). ... Neither Pekin nor Dunlap spent much time at the free throw line. Pekin was 3-for-7 and Dunlap was 1-for-1. Just 14 fouls were called, eight on Dunlap and six on Pekin ... Pekin outrebounded Dunlap 28-18. ... Dunlap coach Corky Card called time out with 6:41 and 2:46 to go in the first quarter and 5:39 and 2:11 left in the second quarter. His final TO came with 1:56 to go in the game.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.