Elgin guard Kristin Tayag did something that makes all coaches cringe at the end of games.
As the Maroons' girls basketball team nursed a 6-point lead with 15 seconds left with Larkin looking for any type of break, Tayag missed her second free throw and to the dismay of Maroons' coach Dr. Nick Bumbales, who grabbed his head in disbelief, she picked up the long rebound and chucked it right back up.
Luckily for the Maroons, Tayag's 3-point shot from the top of the key was a clean swish. All doom was forgotten and the heave held up as the final basket in Elgin's 44-35 Upstate Eight River win over crosstown rival Larkin at Chesbrough Field House Friday night.
Elgin grabbed its first conference win of the season and a 2-1 season advantage over the Royals, who they will meet for a fourth time on Feb. 11 in the opening round of the Class 4A Streamwood regional.
"Well you got to cover the number, I guess," Bumbales jokingly said of Tayag's shot. "I don't know what's going on. Holy smokes. As long as we make them."
Tayag led all scorers with 18 points and Abby Pierre-Louis had 11 points and 3 steals off the bench for Elgin. But Tayag's shot seemed to be the appropriate ending to a crazy final 90 seconds.
"I honestly didn't even know I was behind the 3-point line," Tayag said. "I probably shouldn't have done that but at least it went in I guess."
Elgin (8-15, 1-8) had to stave off a pesky Larkin (3-20, 1-8) rally, as the Maroon lead dwindled from 12 to 5 in a minute span on a 9-2 Royal run capped by Amber McGhee's 3-pointer and free throw with 1:50 remaining.
Unfortunately for Larkin, its bench was hit with a technical foul with 1:02 left after a Royals' fan disagreed with a referee on a foul call against Larkin.
"It was a fan in the stands, he wasn't buying it," Royals coach Ruben Flores said. "It was somebody in the third row, he got T'd up and we just got discombobulated after that."
Tayag split 2 free throws thereafter and then was fouled immediately to put Elgin up 40-32 with 44.8 seconds left. Sky Evans got the lead back down to 5 with her 3-pointer but Tayag's free throw and 3-pointer were the dagger.
"We just didn't have the legs at the end there," said Flores, whose team outscored Elgin 23-19 in the second half and played with much more energy at the end. "If we would have came out with that kind of intensity and fire in the first half, we probably would have gave them a better run."
Quiximia Washington led Larkin with 12 points while McGhee chipped in 8 points and 6 rebounds, as both kept the Royals in it during the second half, after they trailed at the half 25-12. Tayag helped blow it open with 6 points in the second quarter, when things calmed down for the Maroons after they committed 8 first-quarter turnovers.
"I think the team plays better when we're calm and we take the game at our pace," Tayag said. "As long as we do that our offense works better."
Elgin held Larkin to a 25 percent clip from the field (15 of 60) as the Royals turned the ball over 25 times. Larkin lost the battle on the glass 39-35 as Jess Ramirez was a monster on the glass with 11 rebounds, 4 on the offensive end, for the Maroons.