The Pekin girls basketball team needed to beat Champaign Centennial on Wednesday afternoon to keep its hopes alive for placing in the 24th annual Charleston Girls Holiday Tournament, and the Lady Dragons got the job done.
They beat Centennial 59-46 in Baker Gym and improved to 2-1 in Red Pool play. Their final pool game is against Danville at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
The top three teams in the five-team Red Pool and the top three teams in the five-team Gold Pool will face each other at 4, 5:30 and 7 p.m. Thursday for fifth place, third place and the tournament championship.
Everyone else will go home early.
"We should get into one of those three place games," Pekin coach Becky Fulkerson said Wednesday after doing the math.
Speaking of math, Lady Dragons guards Sydney Diekhoff and Maddy Cash put up some big numbers against Centennial. Diekhoff had 20 points and Cash had 17.
They combined for all seven 3-point shots made by Pekin (10-4).
"We did a great job with our inside-outside game getting Sydney and Maddy open for shots," Fulkerson said. "We also did a good job boxing out and rebounding and our defense created several turnovers.
"Our execution was good from start to finish."
Pekin led 18-10 after the first quarter behind seven points apiece by Diekhoff and Cash and stayed in front the rest of the way.
Eight of Pekin's nine players scored. Bailey Tibbetts had six points in addition of doing an effective job defensively on Centennial's Faith Ayodele, Lauren Juergens scored five points and Abigail Olsen and Jenna Taphorn each had four.
Shoetera Russell led Centennial (4-11) with 20 points and Ayodele, a 6-foot-3 junior, scored 14.
Pekin needed to beat Centennial because it lost 69-59 Tuesday night to Charleston.
The final score wasn't a true indication of the closeness of the game. Pekin outscored Charleston 20-9 in the fourth quarter against mostly bench players.
"Charleston drove to the basket and finished everything. We had a hard time stopping them because we didn't communicate enough defensively," Fulkerson said.
Offensively, Fulkerson said, the Lady Dragons didn't take advantage of the chances they created.
"All in all, we made too many mistakes," she said. "In order to win, we need to do the things we know how to do, and do them well."
Diekhoff poured in 25 points against Charleston. She had 11 in the first quarter, 11 in the fourth quarter, and she made five 3-point shots.
Tibbetts had eight points and Juergens had seven.
Paige Swango topped Charleston (11-2) with 19 points, matching Diekhoff's five triples.
Kaitlyn Coffey and Hope Griffin contributed 13 and 11 points to the win.