It took two overtimes for the Pekin boys basketball team to put away Cardinal earlier this season.
By the end of two quarters on Friday, the Panthers were well on their way to win number two over the Comets.
Pekin turned another dead-even game through one quarter into a rout with an impressive second quarter. The Panthers stole, blocked and ran out to several scoring runs while outscoring the Comets 28-7 in the second eight minutes of the first half — pacing Pekin to a 69-40 win in the Southeast Iowa Superconference Shootout Friday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
“It’s always nice to beat a rival team,” junior Petie Clubb said after scoring a game-high 19 points for the Panthers. “We’ve beaten Sigourney this year. Now we’ve beaten Cardinal twice.”
The victory was extremely satisfying for Pekin head coach Ken Hutchinson, who won his first SEISC Shooutout contest in his fourth attempt. The Panthers also heeded the coach’s instruction to avoid playing 40 minutes with the Comets.
“I told the guys we weren’t going to let that happen again or you won’t like practice on Monday,” Hutchinson said. “It feels good to get one of those wins in the shootout, but I think the guys really took to heart the fact that they wanted to finish the regular season off in style. A whole new season starts for us next week.”
“I think this gives us a great stride going into the postseason,” Clubb added.
Friday’s game was not the kind of stride first-year coach Jay Olson wanted to see from his Comets. Cardinal actually started the game well, forcing three ties and three lead changes in the opening three minutes before opening a 10-6 lead.
After allowing Pekin to go on a 26-5 run to close the first half, the Comets never got closer than 19 points the rest of the way.
“(Pekin) went into a 2-3 zone and we didn’t really have a sense of urgency,” Olson said. “That’s what can happen when we don’t knock down shots, our defense wasn’t really where it could have been. They got the matchups they wanted and took it to us.”
Pekin has seen plenty of drama this season, having gone 5-5 in 10 games decided by 10 points or less. On Friday, the Panthers showed their ability to be an explosive team on both ends of the court as the Panthers collected 10 steals and turned several into easy transition baskets.
“That’s what we’re looking for right after a steal,” junior Cade Millikin said after collecting a game-high six steals for the Panthers. “We look straight up and usually we have someone out running the court. It gives a chance for an easy bucket.”
Millikin ignited Pekin’s offense with a triple-double, scoring 11 points while pulling in 11 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists.
“It’s awesome to work the ball around to everybody,” Millikin said. “Everyone gets their time to shine when we’re winning. That’s what we’re looking for.”
On Friday, the player who shined from the field was Clubb. The team’s leading shooter at 54.5 percent on the season almost tripled his scoring average while hitting seven of his 10 shots from the field.
“I had a lot of open shots. My team made it that way,” Clubb said. “I don’t usually shoot the deep shots, but I got open chances. The guys really relied on me and trusted in me. I just wanted to step up for them.”
Pekin shot 52 percent from the field as a team, including a 57-percent first half clip as the Panthers scored 40 points by halftime with leading scorer Graham Wittrock being shutout. Seth Jensen added 12 points to give the Panthers three players in double figures, a trend that has been the feature for a Pekin team that is in it’s first season in eight years without Jordan or Trey Sathoff, the top two scorers in program history.
“We had a lot of individual playmakers last year,” Hutchinson said. “This group really relies on each other well, which I think makes us an even tougher team to defend.”
Pekin took the lead for good early in the second quarter with a run of seven straight points to open a 21-14 lead. After a Dakota Showman basket for Cardinal, the Panthers scored the next 10 to take their first double-digit lead.
Charlie Rachford’s 3-pointer brought Cardinal within 10 for the final time at 27-19. Pekin answered by scoring the final 13 points of the half to put away their 13th win as the 13-8 Panthers will host SEISC North rival WACO on Thursday to open Class 1A, District 9 play.
Jonathan Pedersen led Cardinal with 15 points. The 11-10 Comets will have this weekend to shake off the loss before kicking off Class 2A, District 12 action at home Monday against Albia at 7 p.m.
“We’re going to try to get rid of this game from our minds and get ready to roll on Monday,” Olson said.
Pekin 69, Cardinal 40
Card. 12 7 9 12 — 40
Pekin 12 28 12 17 — 69
Cardinal (40) — Jonathan Pedersen 15, Dakota Showman 11, Kaleb Durflinger 6, Charlie Rachford 5, Brandon Potts 3. Totals 17-54 4-11 40.
3-point goals — 2-15 (Rachford 1-4, Showman 1-5, J. Pedersen 0-1, Neil Urtado 0-1, Cody Carter 0-2, Potts 0-2). Rebounds — 32 (Durflinger 10, Rachford 7, J. Pedersen 5, Cody Streeby 3, Nathan Yeager 3, Carter, Sam Pedersen, Potts, Showman). Assists — 15 (Carter 4, Durflinger 2, Rachford 2, Showman 2, J. Pedersen, Potts, Streeby, Urtado, Yeager). Steals — 8 (Showman 4, Durflinger, Pedersen, Rachford, Yeager). Blocks — 1 (Showman). Total fouls — 14 (Technicals - Cardinal bench). Turnovers — 20.
Pekin (69) — Petie Clubb 19, Seth Jensen 12, Cade Millikin 11, Brody Long 9, Jared Bond 7, Graham Wittrock 7, Eric Adam 4. Totals 29-56 8-14 69.
3-point goals — 3-10 (Clubb 2-3, Millikin 1-3, Christian Wittrock 0-1, G. Wittrock 0-3). Fouled out — Bond, Long. Rebounds — 41 (Millikin 11, Long 8, Jensen 7, G. Wittrock 6, Clubb 4, Adam 2, Bond 2, C. Wittrock). Assists — 21 (Millikin 10, Clubb 4, G. Wittrock 3, Jensen, Long, Cole Reighard, C. Wittrock). Steals — 10 (Millikin 6, G. Wittrock 2, Clubb, Jensen). Blocks — 7 (Long 5, Adam, Jensen). Total fouls — 15. Turnovers — 19.