It couldn’t have been a better Senior Night on Friday for the Pekin boys basketball team.
The Dragons defeated Limestone 49-25 in a regular-season and Mid-Illini Conference finale at Dawson Hawkins Gymnasium and earned third place in the conference behind co-champions Morton and Washington.
With the win, Pekin (12-13, 7-7) became the lone team besides Morton and Washington in the eight-team conference to finish at .500 or better in Mid-Illini competition. Morton and Washington each went 13-1.
All seven Pekin seniors got plenty of playing time against Limestone (9-18, 6-8) and each scored.
“What a great sendoff for our seniors,” said Pekin coach Jeff Walraven. “All of our seniors did great things (Friday) and helped us win.”
Mason Carr led the Dragons with 13 points and Ben Cash had 12 points along with four steals and three assists. Fellow seniors Zach Sullivan, Carter Taphorn, Matt Tharp, Sam McClain and Cole Gianessi also scored.
Pekin junior Jace Link had six points and a game-high seven rebounds.
The Dragons’ defense frustrated Limestone, which shot only 18 percent from the field (7-for-40) including 3-for-18 on three-pointers. The Rockets had 15 turnovers and Pekin had 10 steals.
“When you get your butts whipped like that, you have to give credit to the other team,” said Limestone coach Eddie Mathews.
“Pekin was more determined than us. It was Senior Night and they were playing for each other. But we missed a lot of layups. Obviously, we weren’t focused.”
Nobody from Limestone scored in double figures. Seth Kizer and Adam Borrowman each had eight points.
Limestone and Pekin struggled to a 5-5 tie at the end of the first quarter, and Limestone’s struggles continued the rest of the night.
Pekin outscored the Rockets 16-0 in the second quarter to move in front 21-5 at halftime. Limestone was 0-for-10 from the floor in the second quarter.
“Limestone missed some shots early. Had they made them, that might have swayed the momentum,” Walraven said.
The Rockets didn’t reach double-digits until Joe Boyer knocked down two free throws with 3:46 left in the third quarter to cut Pekin’s lead to 23-11.
The Dragons led by as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter.
Pekin heads into the postseason with impressive back-to-back wins over conference rivals Metamora and Limestone.
“We’re headed in the right direction at the end of the season, which is where you want to be,” Walraven said. “I’m real happy with how we’re finishing.”
Pekin will face Ottawa at 7 p.m. Monday in the Class 4A East Moline United Township Regional.