By ROGER THOMAS
---- — 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.”
Gingerich's second 3-pointer of the quarter pulled the visitors to within 30-24. After a score by Dallas Nye, IMS trailed by just two. Pekin led 34-29 at the break.
IMS outscored the Panthers 20-9 in the third to lead 49-43 after three quarters. Bond was back at it in the third as he scored on two put backs and had seven of the Pekin’s nine third-quarter points.
“I believe that I’m stronger inside than most of the guys I play against. If I keep from getting buried down deep, I expect to score or get to the line,” said Bond
The visitors continued to use the 3-point shot as they hit four in the third eight minutes of action. Kirby Shetler’s 3-pointer gave the visitors a 44-43 lead and he followed that up with another as IMS led 47-43. A Gingerich drive with only two ticks left in the third gave the visitors a 49-43 lead heading to the fourth.
“IMS really packed it in to take away our inside game and they got a couple of steals that let them get back into it,” said Hutchinson.
Pekin wiped out the lead and eventually won the game by outscoring IMS 15-6 in the crucial fourth. After Cole Reighard converted an old-fashioned three-point play to open the final eight minutes, the seniors took over for the Panthers.
Long’s two free throws pulled Pekin to within one. When Millikin converted his steal into a three-point play, the Panthers had the lead at 51-49. Millikin had five points, two steals, three rebounds, and an assist in the fourth.
“This is a team effort. We have all stepped up at different times,” said Millikin. “As a senior, it was important for me to help find ways to win.”
IMS tied it at 51 before Bond scored inside to give the Panthers the lead for good. Seniors Millikin and Long combined for the final five Panther points, but it wasn’t until after the buzzer that the game was decided
Pekin led 58-55, but IMS had a chance to force overtime from the free throw line when Reggie Hostetler was fouled shooting a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Needing to make all three to force overtime, Hostetler missed his first with the clock at zero to bring an end to a thrilling battle for the SEISC North lead.
There was not letdown on Saturday for the Panthers, who got 18 points apiece from Jared Bond and Brody Long against Sigourney. Long added 13 rebounds for a double-double in the victory.
“We are not letting the streak put any unnecessary pressure on us,” said Hutchinson. “We are just putting an emphasis on defense and playing at a high level every night.”
No. 10 (1A) Pekin (15-1, 14-1) returns to SEISC North action Tuesday night at Highland, looking to extend the winning streak to 16 straight games.
PEKIN 58, IOWA MENNONITE 55
IMS 12 17 20 6 – 55
PEK 19 15 9 15 – 58
IMS (55) – Nick Yutzy 10, Kirby Shetler 6, Payton Miller 2, Reggie Hostetler 6, Tanner Leyden 2, Eli Gingerich 16, Dallas Nye 11, Zach Hill 2. Totals 19-41 9-13 55.
3-point goals – 9-16 (Yutzy 3, Shetler 2, Gingerich 4). Fouled out – none. Rebounds – 20 (Hostetler 9). Assists – 10 (Nye 5, Gingerich 4). Steals – 4 (Yutzy 2). Blocks – 3 (Hill 2). Total fouls – 15. Turnovers – 11.
PEKIN (58) – Cole Reighard 3, Millikin 12, Winn 10, Bond 20, Brody Long 7, Eric Adam 6. Totals 22-45 13-19 58.
3-point goals – 1-8 (Millikin). Fouled out – none. Rebounds – 26 (Winn 9). Assists – 8 (Petie Clubb 3, Millikin 3). Steals – 6 (Millikin 4). Blocks – 1 (Long). Total fouls – 18. Turnovers – 10.
PEKIN 59, SIGOURNEY 38
PEK 17 23 13 6 — 59
SIG 8 16 7 7 — 38
PEKIN (59) — Cade Millikin 18, Brody Long 18, Jared Bond 10, Cole Reighard 9, Petie Clubb 4. Totals 25-65 5-12 59.
3-point goals — 4-11 (Millikin 4-5). Rebounds — 48 (Long 13). Assists — 15 (Clubb 8). Steals — 9 (Clubb 2, Millikin 2, Keaton Winn 2). Blocks — 9 (Bond 2, Long 2, Ryan Swanson 2, Winn 2). Total fouls — 16.