There is a long way to go in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division race.
Streamwood boys basketball coach Tim Jones was quick to point that out Tuesday night. But the Sabres showed they are going to play a part in deciding which team claims the title.
The host Sabres defeated Larkin, one of the preseason favorites, 56-53, in the conference opener.
"In this conference every game is going to be tough this year," Jones said. "All these teams are good. I think we've got decent pieces to compete with everybody."
Neither team led by more than 4 points until a pair of free throws from Jacob Siewert gave Streamwood a 55-49 lead with 52 seconds remaining in the game. The Royals (4-1, 0-1) led 15-14 after the first quarter. The Sabres (3-2, 1-0) were up 25-23 at halftime. Larkin took a 40-39 lead into the fourth quarter.
A Vince Williams basket with 5:25 remaining helped the Sabres tie the game at 43-43. Baskets from Joel Lightbourne and Trevious Norman gave Streamwood a 47-43 lead with 3:34 left.
The Royals tied the game at 49-49 on a Kendale McCullum offensive rebound and putback with 1:54 to go. Williams gave the Sabres the lead for good with a basket in the paint with 1:37 remaining.
"We had our tempo," said Williams, who finished with 12 points. "If they sped it up, we just stayed at our tempo, slowed it down and kept our composure."
Siewert hit 4 free throws to give Streamwood a 55-49 lead with 52 seconds remaining. Derrick Streety hit 1 of 2 free throws and Andrew Jones, Tim Jones' son, hit a 3-pointer to get the Royals within 2, 55-53, with 29 seconds to go. Zack Harris hit 1 of 2 free throws with 7 seconds left for a 56-53 Streamwood lead. Quantice Hunter's 3-point attempt at the buzzer barely hit the front of the rim.
"It was a complete team loss tonight, starting with me," Royals coach Deryn Carter said. "We didn't have them prepared well enough obviously and that starts with myself. Our energy wasn't there. A lot of things we pride ourselves on weren't there."
The Royals shot 30 percent (17 of 57) from the floor and just 13 percent behind the 3-point line (4 of 31). McCullum and Streety each had 8 points. McCullum also had 10 rebounds.
Lighbourne led the Sabres 14 points. Siewert added 12. Harris finished with 8 points and 13 rebounds.