There are no longer any undefeated boys basketball teams in the Mid-Illini Conference.

Morton saw to that Friday night, beating Pekin 53-43 in the cozy confines of the Potterdome.

It was the first conference defeat for the Dragons (4-6, 3-1) while Morton (8-3, 3-1) moved into a tie for first place with Pekin,

Metamora and Washington as the Mid-Illini season takes a break for the holidays.

Morton grabbed the lead early in the first quarter against Pekin and never gave it up. The Potters led 13-6 after the first quarter, 26-16 at halftime and 31-24 after three quarters.

It was difficult for Pekin to rally because Morton was methodical on offense all night, looking for a good shot.

"Pekin is very good defensively," said Morton coach Matt Franks.

"We needed to have quality possessions against them because they don't make mistakes. I was pleased with our guys' patience on offense."

Morton was an efficient 15-for-29 shooting from the field for 52 percent and the Potters were 6-for-10 on 3-pointers, making all six in the first half.

Pekin coach Jeff Walraven wasn't surprised by Morton's offensive strategy.

"Especially after they went ahead. They wanted to shorten the game," he said. "I thought this was going to be close game, something like 50-48 or 48-46. Unfortunately, it wasn't as close as I had hoped."

Three players scored in double figures for Morton, led by Jarrett Crider with 17 points.

The 5-foot-10 junior had 10 points in the first half, but he missed a dunk in the first quarter. It was the southpaw's first dunk attempt in a game. Crider palmed the ball, but banged it off the back of the rim.

"Jarrett is being aggressive offensively," Franks said. "He's a competitive kid."

Tucker Rugaard scored 13 points for the Potters and Barik Olden had 11 points along with three assists.

Noah Steffen pulled down four rebounds for Morton and Crider had three steals.

Free throws played a huge role in Morton's win.

The Potters were 17-for-20 including 14-for-16 in the fourth quarter. Both fourth-quarter misses came in the final 1:30, with Morton holding a comfortable lead.

Crider (7-for-8) and Rugaard (5-for-6) were Morton's top marksman at the foul line.

Nobody from Pekin scored in double figures. Max Jones had nine points and Jace Link and Brady Grashoff each had eight. Link also had five rebounds and two steals. Pekin's Christian Hill had three steals.

The Dragons shot 42 percent from the field (14-for-33) and were 7-for-16 behind the arc.

"We need to start scoring more," Walraven said.

The Dragons had just 35 points in their previous game in a 53-35 loss at non-conference rival Chatham Glenwood.

Link's three-point play gave Pekin the first lead of the game against Morton, but the Potters responded with a triple by Rugaard, back-to-back baskets by Crider and a three-pointer by Olden to move in front for good 10-3.

Pekin got within six points twice in the fourth quarter (33-27 and 37-31) on triples by Hill and Jones but couldn't get any closer, especially because of Morton's hot foul shooting.

Steve Stein can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.