There's something about St. Charles that apparently appeals to Larkin's basketball team.
Eight days after their 61-55 victory over host St. Charles East, the Royals (6-2, 2-1) returned to St. Charles Friday night and handed St. Charles North (4-2, 1-1) a 61-48 Upstate Eight Conference River Division setback.
Senior guard Quentin Ruff, who scored a game-high 22 points, connected on his first two 3-point attempts to start the ball rolling for the Royals, who led 17-12 after 1 quarter.
"After my first shot, I felt like the hole was pretty big," said Ruff, who shot 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc for the game (5-for-10).
Larkin built a 25-15 lead early in the second period on 3-pointers from Ruff and teammate Hannibal Marshall and was still up 27-18 before the North Stars finished the half on an 8-2 run to narrow their halftime deficit to 29-26.
Senior guard Quinten Payne and senior forward Kyle Swanson scored 4 points apiece during the North Stars' late first-half surge.
"We wanted to execute and get them to play our style," said North Stars coach Tom Poulin. "We did it in small spurts and then we came out right after halftime and four of our first five possessions were one-pass 3s.
"The other possession was no passes, drive down the lane and try to finish over the top of people and it just gets them running," added Poulin. "You just feed the fire for them and their transition game."
According to Ruff, Royals coach Deryn Carter provided the team with an emotional speech at the intermission.
"We got a pep talk at halftime," admitted Ruff. "That really helped make us come out and handle our business."
Quantice Hunter (11 points) fueled an 8-0 run with back-to-back layups during the first 2 minutes of the third quarter, as the Royals extended their lead to 37-26.
Five consecutive points from Payne and a pair of free throws by Jake Ludwig brought the North Stars within 39-33 late in the third quarter before junior forward Andrew Jones (10 points, 6 rebounds) scored back-to-back baskets to make it 43-33 heading into the final period.
Playing without starting point guard Derrick Streety (strained groin), the Royals put the game out of reach with a 7-0 run during the early stages of the fourth quarter that included a putback by Brayden Royse (6 points, 5 rebounds), 2 free throws from Kendale McCullum (7 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 assists) and another Ruff 3-pointer.
After a rugged 2-week opening stretch that included 7 games and just 11 practices, the Royals had an opportunity to fine-tune some things leading up to Friday night's clash.
"We got in four practices in a row and it showed," said Carter. "We shored up some things. We've got a long, long way to go but the good thing is some of the stuff we're working on we improved.
"We worked on valuing the basketball, we worked on conditioning, and we worked on defense," added Carter. "To go on the road in this environment, everybody answered the bell. We're proud of the way they responded."
Payne was the North Stars' lone player to reach double figures with 17 points, while reserve Ryan Thomas added a game-high 9 rebounds.
"We had difficulty guarding them," said Poulin, whose squad faces Waukegan Sunday at Ridgewood High School. "We really had a difficult time applying our game plan but that's a credit to them for forcing us to play their style of basketball."