Back-to-back wins are never easy to attain.
Back-to-back wins on the road are even tougher.
Fresh off an emotional 71-67 victory over cross-town rival Elgin, Larkin (9-1, 5-0) held off a late charge to defeat host Geneva 59-55 in Upstate Eight Conference River Division basketball action Friday night.
"This was a huge, huge win," said Royals coach Deryn Carter, whose team extended its winning streak to 4 heading into tonight's clash with South Elgin in the opening round of the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs. "For whatever the date is in December, it doesn't get any bigger in the conference -- a road win like this tonight."
A road win that wasn't decided until junior guard Charles Sanders split a pair of free throws with 3.1 seconds remaining to provide the Royals with their final 4-point cushion.
Senior guard Taylor Boley (13 points) stepped up and drained 4 consecutive free throws over the final 26 seconds after the Vikings had pulled to within a basket on 2 separate occasions down the stretch.
"After every practice, we work on our free throws," said Boley, who scored 7 of the Royals' 12 fourth-quarter points, including a clutch 3-pointer from the corner with 3 minutes remaining.
That came moments after the Vikings' Nate Navigato (13 points, 6 rebounds) had misfired on a hard drive to the basket that would have given Geneva its first lead since the opening minute of the game.
"That was a huge turnaround right there," admitted Geneva coach Phil Ralston, who felt Navigato was fouled on his way to the hoop. "That could have been the whole game right there."
"He did what we expect him to do," Carter said of Boley.
Boley and Sanders received some extra playing time down the stretch after senior guard Kendale McCullum (5 points, 5 steals) crashed into the padded wall while trying to chase down Geneva's Pace Temple with 3:36 remaining.
McCullum, who appeared to injure his left knee, did not return.
"It was a contact knee injury and nothing internal," said Carter. "But I didn't feel confident with the look in his eyes that he could finish the game. He put some ice on it and hopefully he'll play tomorrow."
Boley and Sanders combined for all 18 of the Royals' bench points.
"We start five but we've got eight, nine or 10 that can finish," said Carter. "It's just like the NFL. A guy goes down and we feel bad for him but somebody's got to finish."
The Royals also received a big-time performance from 6-5 senior guard/forward Andrew Jones, who scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field while also drawing the difficult defensive assignment against Navigato.
"Drew did what he's been doing all year," said Carter. "He has been doing great stuff for us."
Jones, who hit his first 4 shots while scoring 10 first-quarter points, was looking to improve upon his admittedly subpar effort from 24 hours earlier against Elgin.
"Last night, we didn't play well as a team and I didn't play well individually," said Jones, who added a buzzer-beating 3-pointer right before halftime. "I wasn't aggressive on both ends of the floor and I didn't play the way I expect to play. I just wanted to redeem myself and have a big night."
Temple came off the bench to join Navigato with 13 points for the Vikings, while Justin Durante and Chris Parrilli each added 8.
"I really didn't feel like overall we played poorly," said Ralston. "They just hit shots where we had some minor breakdowns defensively. We could have been a little bit better on closeouts."