Hutchinson saw plenty of value in several players stepping up for the Panthers throughout the contest.
“A balanced scoring effort prevents the defense from keying in on one guy,” Hutchinson said. “It allows several players to find open opportunities.”
Clubb gave Pekin a perimeter option to go with the interior play of Long and Bond. After being held scoreless while fouling out in the Panthers’ 88-31 district second round win over Seymour on Thursday, Clubb poured in 10 of his 11 points by halftime while helping the Panthers pull away in the second quarter by outscoring the Falcons 26-12.
“I think I shoot 26 percent from the 3-point line and here, I hit 50 percent (2-4),” Clubb said. “It was just one of those nights that you just step up into a rhythm and knock the shots down. It’s just a matter of finding the open person at the right time.”
With its season on the line, Lain and the Falcons didn’t go away quietly as an 11-3 start to the second half helped Wayne cut Pekin’s lead to 51-40. The Panthers countered with a 9-1 close to the third quarter, highlighted by a buzzer beating 3-pointer from Cade Millikin from just inside the half-court stripe.
It was the second straight postseason game that featured a highlight reel play for the Panthers. Keaton Winn, who had eight points and six rebounds on Tuesday, brought the house down at Pekin Gymnasium last Thursday with a slam dunk against Seymour.
“We always have that mindset of making a play that will energize our team,” Clubb said. “On Thursday, we needed that dunk to really get us going against Seymour. That (buzzer-beating 3-pointer) really sparked us. Making those plays every game is always a goal for us.”
Pekin will hope to add a district championship win to the highlight reel Thursday. The Panthers (19-3) will take on Van Buren (20-3) in a much-anticipated battle of the two Southeast Iowa Superconference champions.
“We’ve been playing for Van Buren for a few weeks now,” Clubb said. “If we play up to our potential, we’ll put a good fight against them.”