The Pekin boys basketball team took care of business Monday night.
A smothering defense and a balanced attack were the keys to the Dragons’ 46-31 win over Peoria High in the opening game of a Class 4A regional hosted by Pekin in Hawkins Gym.
It was the ninth victory in 11 games for surging Pekin (15-12), and earned the No. 8 seed Dragons a shot at No. 1 seed Normal Community (25-3) in the regional semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Pekin and Normal Community aren’t strangers. The Ironmen beat the Dragons 51-32 when the teams met Dec. 4 in Normal.
Normal Community had 10 triples that night including four by 6-foot-7 C.J. Wilbourn, a Wisconsin-Milwaukee recruit, who scored 19 points.
The Ironmen have a 1,000-point career scorer in senior point guard Daylen Boddie, a McKendree University football recruit who plays quarterback on the gridiron.
“Normal Community beat us in every facet of the game (Dec. 4),” said Pekin coach Jeff Walraven. “We need to play much better than we did (Monday) if we want to beat them.”
The Dragons started slowly against No. 10 seed Peoria High (8-22), played well in the second and third quarters, and cruised to the win in the fourth quarter.
The Lions weren’t roaring offensively Monday. They shot just 20 percent from the field (10-for-49) including 2-for-18 on triples.
“We did a good job defensively. Anytime you can hold a team to 31 points, you have a great chance to win,” Walraven said.
Pekin is at its best offensively when many people are contributing. That’s what happened in the second and third quarters Monday, when the Dragons outscored Peoria High 34-18 after falling behind 5-4 after the first quarter.
“It wasn’t one person on offense in those quarters,” Walraven said. “We were making shots, getting layups on transition, and Patrick (Torrey) was cleaning up with put-backs.”
Seven Pekin players scored Monday. They were the seven in the Dragons’ rotation.
Torrey led the way with 12 points. Max Jones (8), Justin Taphorn (7), Tyler Durr (6), Cooper Theleritis (6), Adam Cash (4) and Brady Grashoff (3) also scored. The Dragons shot 48 percent from the field (18-for-37).
“I didn’t get off to a good start. I’m glad my teammates picked me up,” said the 6-7 Torrey, who will be matched against the 6-7 Wilbourn on Tuesday.
Ryan Collier, who is normally in the Dragons’ rotation, missed Monday’s game because he was recovering from an allergic reaction, Walraven said. Theleritis inherited Collier’s minutes. Collier is expected to play against Normal Community.
Chris Williams scored nine points and Kevion Mack had eight points for Peoria High, which was 9-for-10 at the free throw line.
Pekin took the lead for good against the Lions in the second quarter (10-7) on a three-point play by Taphorn with 5:48 left in the first half.
Taphorn’s “and-one” and a triple by Jones that preceded it launched a 12-point run by the Dragons that broke open a defensive struggle and sent them in front 16-7.
Pekin outscored Peoria High 18-7 in the second quarter, shooting 7-for-10 from the field to the Lions’ 2-for-16.
It was 22-12 at halftime and 38-23 after three quarters.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.