The key to success for the Pekin boys basketball team boils down to one word. Team.
“When we win, this is what it looks like,” Dragons coach Jeff Walraven said Friday night after Pekin dominated visiting Canton 54-37 in a Mid-Illini Conference game at Hawkins Gym.
Walraven was referring to his team’s balanced scoring.
“Our scoring wasn’t dominated by one person (against Canton),” he said. “When we’ve lost, our entire team has struggled offensively.”
Patrick Torrey led Pekin’s attack against Canton (2-3, 0-3) with 12 points, all in the first half and all on layups or put-backs. The 6-foot-7 junior was 6-for-8 from the field.
Eight other Dragons scored, with Adam Cash and Justin Taphorn each getting nine points and Jack Halstead scoring six. Mitchell Cascia had a team-best five rebounds. Halstead also had four assists and four rebounds.
Pekin has a deep roster -- nine players are in the rotation -- and everyone contributed to the win.
“We executed offensively and defensively and our defensive rebounding was good,” Walraven said. “Offensively, we were unselfish. We were looking for the open guy. And we were making shots.”
Pekin made a lot of shots in the first half, when the Dragons were 15-for-20 from the field for a scorching 75 percent and led 37-19 at the break.
After cooling off in the second half, Pekin still finished 54 percent from the field (21-for-39).
Garrett Brant led Canton with 12 points, going 4-for-10 on triples. Jake Smith had 10 points.
The Little Giants were 9-for-29 on 3-pointers. In contrast, they were 4-for-14 on two-pointers and just 2-for-2 at the free throw line, finally getting there with 1:35 left in the game.
New Canton coach Phil Pullen would like to see a more balanced attack from his team, even against a zone defense like the Dragons played some of the game.
“We spent too much time on the perimeter (against Pekin),” he said. “We didn’t get enough touches in the paint.”
Pullen said Pekin’s hot shooting in the first three quarters was a mix of the Dragons’ efficient offense and Canton’s inefficient defense.
“Pekin shot very well,” Pullen said. “They were getting open looks and knocking them down and making shots that we contested decently. They were shooting with confidence on their home floor.”
Canton scored on the game’s first possession when Smith made a triple. Pekin rattled off the next 16 points in a streak that finally ended when Smith made another 3-pointer with 33 seconds left in the first quarter.
Back-to-back triples by Cash sent Pekin into the fourth quarter with a 49-22 lead.
The Little Giants came up big in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Dragons 15-5 to make the final score somewhat respectable.
“I like the way we played in the second half. We talked about that after the game,” Pullen said.
Steve Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.