Larkin girls basketball coach Ruben Flores has been looking for some senior leadership.
The Royals got just that Friday night from Victoria Patterson.
Patterson's senior leadership was central to Larkin snapping a four-game losing streak against crosstown rival Elgin, beating the Maroons 41-38 in an Elgin City Classic game played at Elgin Academy.
"Tori Patterson worked her butt off," said Flores. "We talked earlier this week about needing more leadership from our seniors and she shows it through action."
Patterson scored a game-high 15 points to go along with 12 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. She scored 5 of her team's 6 points in the fourth quarter as Larkin (6-9) was able to hold off Elgin's comeback attempt.
The Maroons (5-10), who were outscored 26-12 in the middle two quarters, trailed 35-26 after three periods but a Melanie Berg 3-pointer started them on an 8-2 run to open the fourth. Elgin drew within 1, 39-38, when Jessica Ramirez hit 1 of 2 free throws with 1:46 left to play but Patterson hit 1 of 2 from the line with 46 seconds left and Alyssa McGhee did the same with 7.9 seconds to go to make it a 41-38 game.
Abby Pierre-Louis drove the lane for Elgin and made a layup with 0.5 seconds left but was called for a charging foul, allowing Larkin to escape with the win and a 2-0 record in the City Classic heading into Tuesday's showdown with Westminster Christian in what could be the tournament championship game.
"We're just trying to keep up the intensity," said Patterson. "We're playing with a lot of heart."
The Royals were relentless on defense, helping Elgin commit 23 turnovers. Patterson said that was the big difference compared to Dec. 20, when Elgin beat Larkin 53-46 in overtime at Chesbrough Field House.
"We played a lot better defensively," she said. "We were coming up on their guards and causing a lot of turnovers. We worked together as a team offensively and defensively."
Elgin led 14-9 after one quarter but the Royals went on a 13-0 run to take a 22-14 lead after a basket from Rachel Martinez with just 2:30 left before halftime. Elgin came back to score the final 5 points of the quarter to trail 22-19 at the break when Pierre-Louis hit a 12-footer with three seconds left.
But Larkin's 13-4 edge to start the third quarter gave the Royals their biggest lead of the night, 35-23 on a Patterson basket with 2:10 left in the quarter.
Flores credited assistance from Burlington Central sophomore coach Kyle Molik in helping devise a defensive scheme for the game.
"We were more patient and we worked on our defensive scheme to go smaller and quicker and that worked in our favor," said Flores, whose team won despite making just 16 of 61 shots. "Give Elgin credit. Doc kept subbing and subbing and that wore us down a little but in the end we showed a lot of resiliency."
McGhee and freshman Marlee Kyles each added 8 points for the Royals, who are 4-1 in their last five games.
"We're moving in the right direction," said Flores. "The girls are responding to the input and I'm super proud of the effort tonight."
Pierre-Louis led Elgin, which has lost 6 of 7, with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Sophomore Alisha Panthier had 12 rebounds for the Maroons.
"The effort was spectacular," said Elgin coach Dr. Nick Bumbales, who had his team employ a straight 2-3 zone defense most of the night. "The girls who played did a great job. Unfortunately things didn't go our way in the end. We didn't rebound as well and (Larkin) shot a little better than last time. They were 0-for-25 from 3-point range last time. Last time we had 12 points just on out-of-bounds plays and we didn't get that tonight.
"Hats off to (Larkin). They played well."
Westminster Christian 63, Elgin Academy 21: Liz Meschewski had 13 points and 8 steals, estrablishing a new school career record for steals with 251, as the Warriors (14-1) rolled to this Elgin City Classic win. McKaila Hays added 12 points for Westminster, while Maddie Versluys had 11 and Kinsley Donahue 10. Kaitlyn Pearson led Elgin Academy (3-8) with 8 points.