Pekin gets defensive, drops Keota 52-42
KEOTA — Nerves got the best of young Pekin early in its district semifinal game Tuesday, but the visitors settled down in time to pick up a 52-42 victory over host Keota.
“It was pretty ugly, but we did get the win,” said Pekin head coach Ken Hutchinson. “Offensively it was a struggle. I think part of it had to do with nerves. We missed some shots early on, and I think we let that linger.”
While it may not have been very pretty, it was still enough to advance the 15-8 Panthers to the regional final round, where they will face top-ranked and undefeated Danville (23-0) on Thursday.
Despite scoring only three points in the entire third quarter after building a 28-20 halftime lead, the Panthers staved off Keota’s comeback in the final period.
Carrying a 31-29 lead into the fourth, Pekin broke away down the stretch with a combination of scrappy defense and clutch free throws. The Panthers scored 21 points in the final period.
Junior guard Petie Clubb led Pekin with 17 points on 5-for-6 free throw shooting, and he also dished out four assists.
“He did good offensively, but I really thought his defensive intensity was huge for us,” Hutchinson said of Clubb. “They quit having their point guard take it up the court because of how tough Petie was guarding him.”
Also for Pekin, Brody Long finished with a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds. Cade Millikin scored eight points to go with three steals, and Graham Wittrock finished with six points and a career-high seven boards.
“Those were pretty much our main contributors, but everyone else played hard defensively,” Hutchinson added.
Weather permitting, Pekin’s game vs. Danville is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Muscatine.