Playing a third game in as many nights had no effect on the surging Larkin boys basketball team, which coasted to an 88-61 victory over South Elgin in opening-night action at the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs Saturday.
The Royals actually fell behind 12-6 in the first quarter, the result of a bucket from sophomore guard Matt Smith and a steal and a 3-pointer from senior guard Darius Wells. But that was the high point for the Storm (4-6).
Larkin (10-1) regrouped during a timeout and dominated from then on, outscoring South Elgin 50-16 the rest of the half. The victory was fourth straight for the Royals, who prevailed 71-67 at rival Elgin on Thursday and 59-55 at Geneva on Friday.
"If you'd told me on Tuesday we'd be 3-0 on the week, I wouldn't care how we got it done. I'd just be proud of our guys," Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. "But how we got it done is probably what's best: a grind-out win at Elgin and a grind-out win (at Geneva) that was as big a win in conference as any we could have had, then coming out here and playing really well. In 72 hours our team grew and we got a lot better for it, that's for sure."
Thirteen Royals dented the scoring column, but the efforts of two seniors stood out: 6-foot-5 forward Brayden Royse and sixth-man Taylor Boley.
Royse, who doubles as one of the top pitchers in the Larkin baseball program, did a bit of everything in the first quarter to help his team amass 30 points. He scored 6 of his 9 points, snared 4 of his 6 rebounds, dished 3 of his 5 assists, blocked a pair of shots and made a steal.
"I like to play my role most of the time," said Royse, a two-year starter. "If there's an open spot, I like to fill it. I'm the guy who likes to box out and let the other guys get the rebounds." Royse finished with 6 rebounds.
"Oftentimes, Brayden gets lost in the shuffle, but he's a good player," Carter said. "He's was just doing what he does everyday in practice. He's very unselfish in the way he accepts whatever role."
Senior guard Derrick Streety scored 10 of his 14 points in the first quarter to help propel Larkin to a 30-19 lead.
The next eight minutes belonged to Boley, who scored half of Larkin's 26 second-quarter points by sinking 5 of his 6 shots, 3 of 4 from 3-point range. He finished with 16 points to pace the Royals and also made 3 steals.
"They gave me the ball when I was open," Boley said. "I normally shoot a knock down."
South Elgin dropped its fourth game in five outings, partly because it committed 17 turnovers in the first half, 10 in the second quarter. The third quarter wasn't much better. The Royals opened the second half with an alley-oop pass from Royse to 6-5 freshman Christian Negron for a two-handed dunk. The Storm committed turnovers on 5 straight possessions at one point and finished the game with 27.
"They tried to get us in the half court defensively," South Elgin first-year coach Matt Petersen said. "When we went up against that, we started to force more. Because we were forcing more, we then started watching players with the ball instead of letting the offense run. It was all connected. Bad shots became not getting open off the ball, and then we didn't run our offense and just tried to get a shot off. It was one thing after another."
Wells scored 12 points and 6-3 sophomore Jake Amrhein added 10, including a pair of 3-pointers. South Elgin resumes tournament play Monday against Barrington at noon.
Senior Drew Jones posted 11 points and 6 rebounds, and senior guard Kendale McCullum had 9 points, 4 assists and 2 steals for Larkin. The Royals next face Prairie Ridge on Monday at 1:30 p.m.