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Article updated: 1/10/2014 11:21 PM
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Larkin cruises past Neuqua Valley
 

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Larkin cruises past Neuqua Valley
Mike Krizman

In a game featuring the top two teams in the Upstate Eight Conference, Larkin came away with the convincing victory at Neuqua Valley Friday night.

The Royals, leaders of the UEC River Division, led from start to finish against the Valley-leading Wildcats, winning 72-52 in the conference crossover.

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Larkin coach Deryn Carter praised his team's defensive effort and the way the Royals used their athletic ability to their advantage.

"We tell our guys all the time that there's no bad time for penetration, but there's no good time for a turnover," Carter said. "They've got to be athletic enough to get around and then good enough basketball players fundamentally to make the right play, and they did that tonight.

"Neuqua Valley is one of the premier programs in the suburbs," Carter added. "It's nice to be able to compete with a team on that level."

Larkin (14-2) jumped out to a quick 9-1 lead in the first three minutes as Christian Negron's turnaround jumper from the baseline forced Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton to call a timeout with 5:12 left in the first quarter.

"We came out with a lot of energy from the start," Larkin senior point guard Kendale McCullum said. "We really wanted this one after losing to (Neuqua Valley) twice last year. We came in with a chip on our shoulder."

After the timeout Neuqua Valley (10-4) managed to cut the Royals' lead to 2 after a rebound basket by Elijah Robertson made the score 11-9, but that was as close as the Wildcats got the rest of the night.

Derrick Streety extended Larkin's lead with two straight 3-pointers to start the second quarter.

The Royals' first-half lead ballooned to 31-16 after Brayden Royse found Andrew Jones open inside the lane.

Neuqua Valley's Zach Incaudo knocked down a fade away shot in the lane before the end of the first half, cutting Larkin's lead to 37-27.

However, the Royals carried their momentum into the second half, scoring the first 5 points on a baseline drive by Negron, followed by a 3-pointer from Royse that put his team up 42-27.

Negron threw down a pair of dunks in the second half, including one with 2:02 left in the third quarter that put his team up 55-37, followed by another with six minutes to go in the game off a missed 3-pointer by McCullum that put the Royals up 62-44.

"We cannot afford to look backward but continue to look forward," Sutton said. "The conference is on the line and this stretch of games coming up is a must win for us.

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