BURLINGTON — The game might have been played on Notre Dame’s home court, but from the tip to the final buzzer, the nets at Father Minett Gymnasium belonged to Brady Millikin and the Pekin Panthers on Tuesday night.
Millikin torched the hosting Nikes with an incredible 25-point first-half performance, hitting six 3-pointers in that time frame, and Pekin cremated top-seeded Notre Dame 65-32.
“It’s playoff time so I knew I had to step it up a little bit,” Millikin said. “I saw that first one go in and so I thought I’d try another one. That one went in, and I kind of just got locked in a zone and … it was just a fun game to play.”
It wasn’t just Millikin. The Panthers beat the Nikes to just about every rebound and every loose ball in the first half. They shut down a Nike team that was the top remaining seed in the district after the preceding WACO loss, and took a stunning 50-14 lead into the halftime locker rooms.
Pekin hit eight 3-pointers in the first half as a team, the majority by Millikin, who couldn’t find anything but net in the first 16 minutes, and added a 4-point play at the beginning of the second quarter for good measure.
“He went off in the first half,” Panther head coach Josh Swanson said. “The guys were pointing at the scoreboard. I had no idea, and he’s at 25 points. You see it, but it doesn’t register.”
Incredibly, the second half started with a running clock due to Pekin holding a 35-plus point lead. The clock ran out fast on the Nikes in the last two quarters, as Pekin led 56-17 after three periods and ended the night with a 33-point victory.
Millikin ended the night with 31 points to lead the game. Cael Lyle scored eight. Dayne Eckley scored seven. Keenan Winn and Nick Tschudy scored six apiece. Brock Long had three, and the duo of Braden Soboski and Brady Latcham had two apiece.
Pekin moves on to play New London on Thursday night, in a matchup between the three and four seed in the district. That game will take place in Mediapolis at 7 p.m. The winner will play either Springville or Highland in Saturday’s substate final, with a state tournament berth on the line.