Playing on back-to-back nights can be a good thing.

It was last weekend for the Pekin boys basketball team. The Dragons lost 59-41 to Washington on Friday night in a Mid-Illini Conference game, but rebounded the following night with a 56-47 win over Peoria Notre Dame in a non-conference contest.

Both games were played on the Dragons' home court in Hawkins Gym.

"I'm happy for the guys," Pekin coach Jeff Walraven said after the win over Notre Dame.

"They executed our game plan defensively, and they applied what they learned in the half-hour we spent working on a strategy offensively for Notre Dame's matchup zone defense," Walraven said.

The Dragons (7-9, 3-2) shot a warm 60 percent from the field (21-for-35) against the Irish on a cold night outside and outrebounded Notre Dame 28-17 with Mitchell Cascia grabbing 11 boards.

"Mitchell is our glue guy," Walraven said about the 6-foot senior. "He's the heart and soul of our defense."

Jace Link led Pekin to the win with 16 points. He had a dozen in the fourth quarter. The Dragons' Adam Cash had 12 points, shooting 4-for-7 on triples, and three assists, Justin
Taphorn had nine points and five rebounds, and Jack Halstead had four assists.
Notre Dame coach Tom Lacher said Pekin deserved the win.

"They controlled the entire game," he said. "They did a better job doing what they do than we did for what we do. They took it to us."

Connor Dillon (18) and Will Pudek (16) combined for 34 of Notre Dame's 47 points.
Pekin took the lead for good 19-17 in the second quarter on a basket by Brady Grashoff and was in front 26-19 at halftime and 39-32 after three quarters.

Notre Dame scored seven straight points to cut a 52-40 Pekin lead to 52-47 with 43.2 seconds left, but Link made four straight free throws on two trips to the foul line to give the Dragons breathing room.

The game marked the resumption of Notre Dame appearing on Pekin's schedule each season after an absence of a couple of years.

"We're glad they're back," Walraven said. "We have a lot of respect for their program."

Ben Mount scored 28 points to lead Washington past Pekin, giving the Panthers a measure of revenge for their 34-24 loss to the Dragons on Dec. 28 in the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament.

Mount, a 6-foot-4 junior, was a red-hot 8-for-11 on 3-pointers in Washington's win.
Walraven said his team's turnovers, defensive breakdowns -- especially on Mount -- and rebounding problems were the main culprits in the Dragons' loss.

Junior center Patrick Torrey, Pekin's tallest player at 6-7, missed the Washington and Notre Dame games. It isn't known when he'll return.

Steve Stein can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.