The East Peoria boys basketball team used a well-balanced scoring attack Monday night to defeat Canton 64-59 at home in Mid-Illini Conference action.
“Huge win,” East Peoria coach Matt Wright said after the game.
Cole Morton scored 26 points and seven of East Peoria’s ten dressed players scored in the contest.
“We ran an open offense and just let the guys pass and cut,” Wright said. “As long as we keep the ball moving, everyone can be a threat for us.”
The Raiders (6-8, 2-4) opened the scoring behind a three pointer from Mitch Ingold, which set the pace for the game.
East Peoria made seven 3-pointers in the game.
After the end of the first quarter, East Peoria and Canton were tied at 13 apiece.
However, Morton pushed East Peoria into the lead for good.
The junior guard scored 13 points in the second frame, including a personal 8-0 run, to give East Peoria a 31-22 lead at halftime.
“(Morton) wants to win,” said East Peoria coach Matt Wright. “He is willing to do whatever we ask him to do. He was also super active defensively, and that’s what got him going offensively.”
The Raiders held Canton (10-4 3-3) to eight points in the second quarter.
Wright believes that East Peoria’s defensive intensity was the key to victory.
“The biggest thing was we really played hard on defense,” Wright said. “If you watched us defensively, I thought we were flying around and throwing out the best effort we had.”
The third quarter was tightly contested, with East Peoria earning a 19-12 advantage to boost its lead to 51-33.
Holding an 18-point lead with eight minutes to play, Canton made a concerted effort to fight back into the game.
The Little Giants employed a full-court press to rattle the Raiders.
When East Peoria managed to break the press, Canton resorted to fouling in the half-court to extend the game.
East Peoria shot 8-for-20 in the fourth quarter from the free throw line, allowing Canton back into the game.
“They sped the game up by pressing us in the fourth quarter,” Wright said. “We normally shoot free throws around 75 percent this season, so 8-for-20 is out of character for us. We also got a little frazzled with their press break.”
Despite Canton outscoring East Peoria 26-13 in the final quarter of play, the Raiders held on for a 64-59 victory.
Braydon Weber (12 points), Grant Hagedorn (10 points) and Brandon Pate (8 points) all played key roles for the Raiders.
Garrett Brant led the Little Giants with 17 points, and had four players in double digits.
East Peoria played without senior forwards Brock Crippen and Jacob Teegardin, who both sat out due to illness (flu).