PEKIN – The 10th-ranked (1A) Pekin Panthers won their 15th consecutive games over a 48-hour span, running their over-all record to 15-1 with a 58-55 Southeast Iowa Superconference north over perennially strong IMS squad Friday night at Pekin and a 59-38 win on Saturday at Keokuk County rival Sigourney.
The Panthers used strong inside play to build a 19-12 lead at the end of the first quarter against IMS. Jared Bond, who has had some big double-doubles this season, was unstoppable in the paint and had nine points to lead the Panthers. Bond had three offensive rebounds and converted two of those into scores.
Pekin led 6-0 before the visitors closed to within 6-5 after a 3-pointer by Eli Gingerich. The Panthers then outscored IMS 11-4 to lead 17-9. IMS added three free throws before Keaton Winn scored for Pekin to close out the first.
Winn’s play was big because Panther big man Brody Long picked up two quick fouls. The sophomore Winn had six points and three rebounds in his opening minutes off the bench.
Winn would pick up right where he left off with the first two baskets of the second quarter for a 23-12 Pekin lead.
“It doesn’t bother me coming off the bench because I know that all the older guys have my back,” said Winn. “Practicing against our big guys really helps me be ready.”
Pekin took their biggest lead at 28-15 after Cade Millikin hit the Panthers' only 3-pointer of the game. The use of that shot by the visitors was probably why they were able to stay in the game. IMS would hit 9-16 in the game from long range.
“Our defense was really strong tonight and we are really playing better team defense,” said Pekin coach Ken Hutchinson. “Even as good as we were defensively, not identifying shooters caused us some problems.”