PEKIN – This season has been somewhat of a coming out party for Pekin center Patrick Torrey.
The 6-foot-7 senior is off to a fast start, averaging 12 points and seven rebounds for the 4-8 Dragons.
In Pekin's opening game of the Pekin Holiday Tournament, Torrey finished with 12 points, three boards, an assist and a steal in a 65-55 loss to Lake Zurich.
Torrey played summer ball with the Illinois Irish’s 17U NY2LA team that won the AAU tournament championship in the top division of the NY2LA Summer Jam in Milwaukee.
"Playing on that team really helped me out a lot," he said. "It was a lot faster-paced team, and well-coordinated."
Torrey was a part-time starter last season for the Dragons, but felt confident that he would see more playing time this year.
"I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I felt like I could definitely do more than I did last year," he said. "Our coach has been talking to me the past couple of years, and said they expected a lot more from me, and how this is my year."
Torrey is the only senior for the Dragons this season, and gives Pekin coach Jeff Walraven some much-needed size on the roster.
"We don’t have tons of height, so he helps," Walraven said. "Justin Taphorn is 6-4, but after that, we’re right at that 5-11 mark across the board, it seems like.
"So it’s just nice to have something you can work with. Just being big sometimes is enough."
Torrey has been working to improve his game over the past couple of seasons.
"Each year he’s gotten incrementally better," Walraven said. "This year he’s more of a focal point, because in our area right now there’s not a lot of bigs.
"He’s done a really good job of lifting and getting stronger, and developing his game."
Torrey was about 6-2 as a freshman, and grew to about 6-5 his sophomore season, when he practiced with the varsity but did not get any playing time.
Now Walraven is trying to keep him on the court, especially in Mid-Illini Conference games.
"We don’t go as he goes, necessarily, but the better he plays, the better we’re going to be," Walraven said. "There are some games where if he just goes out there and is big and can finish at the basket and can go get some rebounds, it’s a 10-point swing just by having him on the floor for long stretches.
"His biggest improvement this year has been being able to stay on the court. For a while it was his stamina, and he had a little injury his freshman year. We just need to keep him on the court, fighting through adversities."
Torrey said he has had drawn some interest from Division II and Division III schools, but is still hoping his fast start in his senior season could attract even more.
"We’ve got to take advantage of him this year," Walraven said. "Because when he’s gone, we’re back to a bunch of short guards again."
Johnny Campos can be reached at 686-3214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCampos59.