Tigers win second half, beat Panthers with fast break

The Pekin Panthers boys’ basketball squad was in for a true test when they hosted the undefeated New London Tigers on December 8, with New London beating their opponents by an average of 24 points per game. The Panther defense kept things close early, but the Tigers managed to break the game open in the second half to win in 56-42.

Pekin and New London matched up well in terms of speed, athleticism and aggressive play to begin the game. Both teams exhibited their ability to move the ball down the court off a missed bucket by their opponent, which led to some easy opportunities for buckets. When the Tigers weren’t in attack mode on a fast break, the Panther defense was stingy in the half court, taking away several chances for New London to score. The offense continued to score for Pekin, finishing out the first quarter with a 18-11 lead.

New London started off the second half with a run to extend their minimal lead to nearly double digits. Halfway through the third quarter, the Tigers had begun to make some free throw opportunities and stayed aggressive and concise with their attack, going up 35-27. A short run by the Panthers got the home crowd back into it and gave the Panthers some life, briefly, before the Tigers would answer with their own run to go up 48-31 heading into the final quarter.

Pekin responded by cutting into the deficit throughout the fourth as New London began to take some more time off the clock and continued to use their fast break when given the chance. The Panthers would edge out the Tigers in the final eight minutes of play by a score of 11-8 but would still take the loss 56-42. The loss moved the Panthers’ record to 3-2 while the Tigers remained undefeated with a 4-0 record.

Up to this point in the season, the Panthers had dominated Winfield Mt. Union and Columbus Junction in their first couple games of the season, followed by a close loss to Highland on the road. They bounced back with an important double-digit win by hosting IMS the night before playing New London. The Panthers faced Cardinal, another home game on December 10, before taking back to the road on December 11 when they played at Lone Tree.

To see the full story, along with coaches comments, check out the Dec. 12 edition of the News-Review.