For one night, the Potterdome belonged to the Pekin boys basketball team.
The Dragons dismantled Morton 64-40 Friday night, handing the Mid-Illini Conference leader its first conference loss of the season and ending years of frustration.
“I don’t know when we last won here. I do know this coaching staff had never won here until tonight,” said sixth-year Pekin coach Jeff Walraven. “This is a tough place to play and Morton is a consistently successful program, the kind of program we’re striving to be.”
Pekin (10-11, 6-3) never trailed Friday and was in front by double digits from midway through the second quarter until the final buzzer. The Dragons led 14-5 after the first quarter, 28-13 at halftime and 47-30 after three quarters.
Patrick Torrey was a tower of strength inside for Pekin.
The 6-foot-7 senior had 15 points, 10 rebounds and a game-high four assists, and he put the finishing touches on the Dragons’ win with two uncontested one-hand dunks in the fourth quarter.
Torrey is right-handed, but he dunks left-handed.
“Patrick made some great decisions with the ball when we got it to him inside,” Walraven said.
Max Jones (13), Adam Cash (11) and Brady Grashoff (10) also scored in double figures for the Dragons, who shot 54 percent from the field (22-for-41) including 7-for-15 on triples. Jones was 5-for-6 on free throws.
Morton (17-8, 8-1) struggled mightily offensively, shooting 33 percent from the field (16-for-48). After missing their first 10 three-point attempts including all nine in the first half, the Potters finished 4-for-28 from behind the arc.
“Give Pekin credit,” said Morton coach Matt Franks. “They shot well, played with energy, and disrupted our offense. The Mid-Illini is a very tough conference. If you don’t show up, you’re going to get beat.”
Barik Olden scored 15 points and Jarrett Crider had 10 points for Morton. Take away Olden’s 7-for-11 night from the field, and the rest of the Potters were 9-for-37.
Pekin led Morton by as many as 16 points (27-11) in the second quarter. In his halftime talk to his team, did Walraven remind his players that they rallied from a 16-point second-quarter deficit Jan. 12 and beat East Peoria by 10 points?
“No. Maybe I should have,” Walraven said with a smile. “I talked mainly about how Morton was going to amp up its defensive pressure to try to create turnovers.
“I thought we did a good job for the most part taking care of the ball and creating scoring chances in the second half. We haven’t had to do that much this season. We haven’t had a lot of big leads late.”
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.