Larkin blitzed Cary-Grove with its brand of skill and athleticism for three quarters in a 71-32 victory at the Hoops for Healing Boys Basketball Tournament in Woodstock Tuesday, but it was the Royals' mediocre second quarter that drew coach Deryn Carter's focus at halftime.
Larkin (2-0) jumped to a 23-8 lead after one period on the strength of 2 3-pointers apiece from senior guards Quantice Hunter and Quentin Ruff and another from junior guard Taylor Boley, but Cary-Grove (1-1) held its own in the second period, which Larkin narrowly won 13-12.
That simply wasn't good enough, according to Carter, who holds higher expectations for his deep, talent-rich team.
"We talked about worrying about the process and not worrying about the results," Carter said of the halftime conversation. "I thought in the second quarter our guys were scoreboard watching instead of playing in the moment. Great teams don't do that and that's why we're not a great team. We're trying to be one, but that's why we're not there yet.
"We have a lot of work to do to understand it's all about the process, and I thought they did that in the second half."
The Royals regained their defensive focus after halftime, when they held the Trojans to 12 points on 5-of-21 shooting and forced 12 of their 23 turnovers.
Junior Drew Jones (6-foot-6) led the charge by scoring all 10 of his points in the third quarter, and Hunter ignited the fast break with 2 steals and 6 points en route to game-highs of 23 points and 4 swipes. Larkin outscored the Trojans 23-7 to take a 59-27 lead heading to the last eight minutes.
"We wanted to focus on getting good stops on defense and valuing the ball on offense," Jones said. "We kind of heard it a little bit at halftime, about that and our intensity, too."
"We've got a lot of team chemistry," Hunter said. "We play as a team. We just had to play solid defense, be fundamental and not take this team for granted like we could just come out and beat them."
Cary-Grove could not counter Larkin's speed and size. The Trojans managed double-digit points in the second quarter only. They shot 11 of 37 from the field (29.7 percent) and lost the rebounding battle 32-27.
"They are athletic at every position," Cary-Grove coach Ralph Schuetzle said of Larkin. "We just didn't have much of an answer. We're not used to playing against that kind of quickness. If you're not used to playing against that quickness, how do you simulate it? You can't. Obviously, they've got a handful of college players on that team. When you're overmatched, you're overmatched."
Senior center Dean Lee led scored 5 points and grabbed 7 rebounds for the Trojans, who will play twice Friday in light of the school's participation in Saturday's Class 6A state championship football game. Cary-Grove will face Woodstock at 10:30 a.m. and Marian Central at 1:30 p.m., both at Woodstock.
Larkin junior guard Kendale McCullum finished with 10 points and 4 steals, and Boley added 9 points for Larkin, which next plays Round Lake on Friday at noon at Woodstock.