Subject Line (article title)
Send to (required)E-mail
Send from (required)E-mail
Throw out the records? Not a chance.
Many times in 118 previous meetings either Larkin or Elgin or both entered the crosstown rivalry boys basketball game with a sub-. 500 record, but the Royals and Maroons can be proud of their respective bodies of work entering tonight's rematch at Larkin at 7:15 p.m.
Elgin (18-3, 6-3 Upstate Eight River) has won two in a row after consecutive losses to St. Charles North and East.
Larkin (14-8, 5-5) had won 6 of 7 games prior to a setback at league-leading Geneva on Wednesday.
"You've got two teams that are above .500, two teams that have a realistic chance at winning a regional," Elgin coach Mike Sitter said. "It's been a while since it was that way for both teams. It should be a great crowd and it should be a great time. It's great for the city of Elgin,"
The Maroons hold a distinct edge in the all-time series, 78-40. They've won 7 straight games against Larkin and 13 of the last 14, including a 59-52 overtime victory on Jan. 11.
The earlier meeting had a lasting effect on each team for different reasons.
The Royals came into that game losers of 2 straight, including a 19-point drubbing at the hands of Geneva. But the confidence the young Royals gained by playing toe-to-toe with the veteran Maroons, then ranked No. 1 in the Daily Herald Top 20, spurred Larkin to 6 wins in its next 7 outings.
The most impressive of those victories was a 70-67 upset of previously unbeaten Plainfield East, which this week was voted the No. 1 seed in the 21-team East Aurora sectional.
The Royals again enter the Elgin game following a lopsided loss to Geneva. Short one starter and two bench contributors on Wednesday for undisclosed reasons, they were humbled by the Vikings, 60-32.
"Hopefully, we left it in Geneva," said Larkin coach Deryn Carter, who expects his team to be at full strength against Elgin. "The last time we played Geneva we got a little bit of a wake-up call. Maybe this loss will serve the same purpose."
Elgin finished the first matchup against Larkin short-handed, literally. Third-year starting guard Dennis Moore, who broke his left hand during football season, left the Jan. 11 game with a broken right hand. The Maroons have played inconsistently since.
"We've missed him defensively," Sitter said. "Some people are being asked to do things they weren't asked to do before Dennis went down. And everybody has been asked to do a little more as far as playing more minutes rotation-wise.
"And we lose that ballhandler late in the game. We used to have four guards along with Gerardo (Mojica) or Devin (Gilliam). Now Gerardo and Devin are finding themselves on the floor at the same time, so the late-game situation has been different for us."
Moore will likely return to the lineup against Larkin, though how much he will play remains to be seen. His cast was removed last Friday, and he dressed for Wednesday's 65-51 victory over Batavia, though he did not play, coach's decision.
With Moore or without him, Elgin struggled in the first meeting to counter Larkin's depth. The Maroons also failed to match Larkin's desire.
"I told Deryn I felt bad they lost because their kids played harder," Sitter said. "This is their conference championship and they're going to come out ready to play. We need to match their intensity."
This season is already an unmitigated success for the improving Royals, whose 14 wins match the program total for the previous four seasons combined. However, a streak-busting, win over rival Elgin in front of a packed house would send a clear signal the Phoenix has risen from the west-side ashes.
"I think they trust in what we've been doing and the work we've been putting in," Carter said of his players. "They're excited to get another crack at Elgin. They understand how good they are. They're looking forward to it, without a doubt."
So is anyone connected to high school basketball in Elgin.
Miss this one? Not a chance.
On the air: The Elgin-Larkin game can be heard on WRMN-AM 1410 with streaming audio available at www.wrmn1410.com. Jeff Myers and Kyle Bault have the call, beginning at 7:05 p.m.
Streaming video: Students from South Elgin High School's Beacon Academy will produce streaming video of the Elgin-Larkin game live at www.useducationtv.com. Click on South Elgin High School for the video stream, which begins at 7 p.m.