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Larkin didn't have much of an answer for St. Charles East senior Dom Adduci Thursday night, but one player rarely wins a basketball game, as the Saints found out.
The host Royals continued to show the depth and balance they have in every game so far this young season, putting five players in double figures in an 82-65 win over SCE in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division boys basketball opener for both teams in Elgin.
"Last year we were 0-1 in conference," said Larkin coach Deryn Carter, whose team lost to Streamwood 56-53 in the River opener last season before going on to win the division title.
"It's big to win the first conference game. This is a big win for us."
Adduci scored a career-high 33 points for the Saints (2-3, 0-1) but picked up his fourth foul with 2:29 left in the third quarter and Larkin (5-0, 1-0) leading 55-45. He went to the bench and didn't return until there was 5:50 left to play and even though the Royals only increased their lead from 10 to 12 points while Adduci was on the bench, his defensive aggressiveness was limited the rest of the way.
"It was a terrible call because we weren't getting that same call," said Saints' coach Patrick Woods. "But we have to get other people involved. That will come to fruition as the season progresses."
Larkin held a tentative 17-16 lead after one quarter then shot lights out in the second quarter, hitting on 10 of 13 shots, not turning the ball over once and holding the Saints to 9 points on 4 of 12 shooting to open up a 43-25 halftime lead.
But St. Charles East came charging back in the third quarter, as Carter knew the Saints would. SCE canned 11 of 16 from the floor after the break and Larkin struggled to a 6 of 16 quarter and turned the ball over six times as the Saints closed to within 59-52 going into the fourth.
"You're going to have good (quarters) and bad ones," said Carter, whose team hosts defending Class 3A champion Morgan Park Saturday in the Mac Irvin Classic. "You just can't let your emotions get too high or too low. We had the 18-point lead but (the Saints) are a good basketball team."
"We got it to seven and we were still in position but then we came out and only went 1-for-10 on possessions," said Woods.
Larkin used bookend 3-pointers from Taylor Boley (11 points) to spark a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter. The senior's trey with 4:28 to play gave the Royals a 69-52 lead and even though Adduci scored the Saints' next 10 points, SCE couldn't get closer than 13 the rest of the way. Ahead 75-62 after 2 free throws from Adduci with 1:36 left, Larkin finished on a 7-3 spurt to hold off the Saints.
"He definitely put on an offensive show," said Carter of Adduci. "He's a very good basketball player. We were trying to take away his jump shot but we didn't do a very good job on his dribble-drive. We'll definitely have to work on that for the next time we play them."
Larkin had a massive 43-21 rebounding edge, collecting 15 on the offensive glass and converting eight of those back into points.
"We spectate more than going after the ball," Woods said. "It's a mindset we have to develop and it's not there yet. We're doing good things but we have to do them for longer periods of time."
Adduci gave Larkin props for its rebounding ability.
"They definitely crash the boards hard and we struggled with that," said Adduci, who was 11 of 18 shooting for the night. "That was our Achilles' heel tonight."
Senior Derrick Streety led the Royals with 20 points, 16 of them in the first half when he was 6-for-8 shooting and had all 3 of his 3-pointers. Seniors Kendale McCullum (16 points, 4 steals, 3 assists), Brayden Royse (13 points) and Drew Jones (11 points, 7 rebounds) added to the Royals' balance. Freshman Christian Negron had 8 rebounds. Larkin shot 30 of 62 for the game.
"We're deep," said Streety. "A lot of people don't notice it but we're deep offensively and defensively. We want to defend the house. We don't want to lose at home. We don't want to lose period but definitely not at home."
And in keeping with the unselfish attitude Carter is fostering with his talented team, Streety said who scores the points makes little difference to the Royals.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "Anybody can put up the numbers. It doesn't matter to us who as long as we win."
AJ Washington added 12 points for the Saints and Cole Gentry had 9.