Washington responded decisively to a 13-point Limestone boys basketball team turnaround in the second half Friday.
Big shots by Casey Danley and Tucker Harlan sparked a 13-2 Panther run in the fourth quarter on the way to a 53-47 Mid-Illini Conference victory over the Rockets.
Washington completed a perfect league road record by surviving its trip to Vern Woosley Gymnasium.
Alec Peters had 21 points and 15 rebounds, both game-high figures, to pace the Panthers.
"It was a team effort," WCHS head coach Kevin Brown said. "Unbelievable. We had guys step up when we needed them to."
Limestone easily has challenged Washington the most of all the M-I members this season, also losing, 57-50, at Torry Gymnasium Dec. 21.
"They're a good basketball team," said Brown of the Rockets, who came in with seven straight wins overall and four in a row in the conference. "This is always a tough place to come into."
In a span of 3 minutes, 44 seconds, Limestone went from trailing 37-27 to leading 41-38 with 6:33 left in the game.
Danley, in his first game of the season, hit back-to-back shots to put the Panthers back in front.
"(Casey) did a great job in the second half letting the ball come back to him," Brown said.
All eight of Danley's points came after intermission.
Harlan buried a 3-pointer, then answered two Rocket free throws with another field goal at the 2:48 mark.
Harlan shot 6-of-9 and totaled 13 points despite not being able to move at 100 percent.
Peters came up with several key rebounds, including one for a putback to make it 49-43. Brown said the forward had a huge fourth quarter.
Washington, the No. 3-ranked team in the Associated Press Class 3A state poll, doubled Limestone on the glass over the last eight minutes.
"In the fourth, I felt like we dominated on the boards a little bit more," said Brown.
Mason McCoy's two foul shots completed the Panthers' surge.
The Rockets got back within four points with 1:14 remaining, but Washington did enough late to hold off the hosts.
McCoy forced a jump ball at :30.6, and Limestone's Dylan Weaver later had a 3-point attempt rattle in-and-out and a teammate mishandled the rebound.
The Panthers were in front 10-9 after a first period that featured a combined 11 turnovers.
By early in the second quarter, Peters and McCoy and Limestone's Hank Mathews and Terence Shelby, four headline players, all had two fouls.
By halftime, Mathews, McCoy and Washington's Cade Jackson all were whistled for three fouls, which led both teams to juggle their line-ups.
Peters had six points in the period to give him 12 for the half. Troy Adams, on an alert Jackson assist, Harlan and McCoy all chipped in baskets.
Page 2 of 2 - But Rocket reserve Nicholas Page recorded five points in the last 1:18 of the quarter to forge a 22-22 tie.
The Panthers used a 15-3 spree in the third stanza to take a 37-27 lead with 2:58 left.
Peters hit three field goals, while Danley produced the last four points of the salvo. Harlan and Adams contributed hoops as well.
Page canned two treys, however, as part of a 10-1 Limestone spurt to conclude the third. Making all four of his shots, Page co-led the Rockets with Shelby with 11 points,
Limestone carried the momentum into the fourth quarter with two more buckets before Washington began its strong closing stretch.
The Panthers shut out Mathews, the Rockets' scoring leader. He was 0-of-2 from the field and did not grab a rebound before fouling out.
The mid-February game had a significance beyond the Panthers clinching the outright conference title.
"This was the postseason. We knew it was going to be and it was," said Brown of the game's intensity.
WCHS 39, Metamora 37
The Panthers dug deep Saturday to pull out another win.
Washington (26-1, 13-0) improved to 10-0 on its home floor after overcoming a 10-point deficit after one quarter.
The Panthers extended their winning streak to 15 games by holding Metamora to 18 points over the last three periods.
Peters had 16 points to lead Washington, which increased its conference lead to four games over the Redbirds and Pekin.
The Panthers last week won their seventh M-I championship in the last nine years.
Jackson Grieves had one of his best games at Metamora with 26 points, including 8-of-8 free throws and four 3s.
Washington outscored the guests 25-13 in the second half to sweep the regular-season series.
Grant Johnson made three big treys for the hosts, and Adams and McCoy had six points each.
The Panthers are responsible for half of the losses of the 22-4 Redbirds.
Senior Night: The Panthers' seven-player senior class will appear for the final time in a game at Torry Gymnasium when the team faces Canton Friday.
Postseason: No. 1-seed Washington plays at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals of the Class 3A East Peoria Regional.
The Panthers will meet either East Peoria (2-21) or Morton (4-22), who face off Monday in the quarterfinals.
The regional championship game is set for 7:30 p.m. March 1.