The Metamora girls basketball team made some noise Friday night in Hawkins Gym.
"When I was talking to our team after the game, I praised Metamora for the way they were talking loudly and communicating on defense," said Pekin coach Brett McGinnis following Metamora's 46-20 win in a Mid-Illini Conference game.
"I asked our girls, 'Did that noise bother you?' They said it did," McGinnis said. "We never got into an offensive rhythm. Metamora was speeding us up the entire game."
The Dragons' offensive statistics reflected their level of comfort offensively.
They shot 26 percent from the field (9-for-34) including 1-for-14 on three-pointers and were only 1-for-2 at the free throw line. Six first-quarter turnovers prevented Pekin from getting off to a good start.
Defense has become a point of emphasis for Metamora (15-5, 5-3). Redbirds coach Brianna Morrow liked what she saw from her team Friday.
"This was the best we've played defensively for a while," she said. "I saw effort and hard work. We got lazy defensively and that cost us conference wins against Washington and Canton."
Losing those games didn't sit well with Morrow.
Expectations are high this season for the Redbirds, who have already equaled their victory total from last year, when they finished 15-13.
The last time they won more than 15 games in a season was the 2009-2010, when they finished 19-12.
Metamora and Pekin met twice in two weeks. The Redbirds needed a fourth-quarter surge Jan. 4 to pull away from Pekin 51-39 at home.
"I guess they (Metamora) wanted to send a message to us tonight," McGinnis said following Friday's game.
Metamora never trailed in the rematch. The Redbirds led 11-2 after the first quarter, 27-10 at halftime and 37-16 after three quarters. The final 4:27 of the game was played with a running clock after Metamora went in front by 30 points (46-16).
Reagan Begole led the Redbirds with 16 points. Anne Peters had eight points and Alivia West and Alana Terry each had six.
Taylor Goss topped Pekin (4-17, 1-7) with seven points and Leah McClanahan had four.
As the losses pile up for the young Dragons, McGinnis is hoping so will the learning experiences, like how Metamora played defense Friday.
"I don't think we're going to get our problems fixed this season, and I apologized to Lauren Juergens (Pekin's lone senior) for that," McGinnis said.
GAME NOTES: Pekin's best offensive stretch Friday came early in the third quarter, when Taylor Goss and Lauren Juergens had back-to-back steals and layups. ... Two free throws by Metamora's Lexi McClure with 4:27 left in the game gave the Redbirds a 30-point lead and started a running clock. ... After missing their first three free throws, the Redbirds went 10-for-12 and finished 10-for-15. .. Leah McClanahan had Pekin's first and last baskets of the game. ... Natalie Righi took Pekin's lone free throws. She went 1-for-2 at the line with 1:37 to go in the first half. ... Metamora shot 43 percent from the field (16-for-37) and outrebounded Pekin 22-12.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.