It’s over. Now the Pekin girls basketball team can move on.
The Dragons lost 52-43 Tuesday night to East Moline United Township in the Class 4A Rock Island Regional opener, ending a season in which victories were few and far between.
The script Tuesday was familiar. Pekin (6-24) played well in the first three quarters, but not in the fourth quarter.
The Dragons led United Township 36-31 after three quarters, but were outscored 21-7 in the final quarter.
“United Township played with a sense of urgency in the fourth quarter. They amped up their defensive pressure, and we didn’t handle it well,” said first-year Pekin coach Brett McGinnis. “We committed eight or nine turnovers, and we were taking quick shots.
“I told our girls after the game that we have to learn to finish games, and to finish our practices strong. That will be our focus in the offseason.”
Pekin was a young team this season, with just one senior on the roster.
Injuries cut into the Dragons’ depth. Tess Cascia (knee) and Remi Wegemann (arm) were hurt in November and December, respectively, and each missed the rest of the season.
Jenna Taphorn (ankle), the team’s second-leading scorer, was injured in the final week of the regular season and never returned to the court.
“We took our lumps in wins and losses this season, but hopefully we learned and we’ll get better,” McGinnis said.
Pekin’s Taylor Goss scored 21 points against United Township (9-15). The sophomore had four triples, three in the first quarter.
Gracie Kizer had eight points for the Dragons and Leah McClanahan had six points. They are freshmen.
Goss finished the season scoring 24 points against East Peoria, 23 points against Limestone and 21 points against United Township.
“Part of that was due to Jenna (Taphorn) being out. Taylor’s shot volume was higher in those games,” McGinnis said. “She played really well, too.”
McGinnis said his team stuck to its game plan in the first three quarters against United Township, which defeated Pekin 64-51 on Feb. 3.
“We made some adjustments defensively from the first game against them and that bothered them in the first three quarters. Plus, we made shots,” McGinnis said.
Brandi Lafontaine scored 22 points for United Township in the regional game and Jasmine Bell rang up 10 points. The Panthers were 8-for-13 at the free throw line in the decisive fourth quarter.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.