Any chance Larkin had to challenge undefeated Geneva Thursday night in Elgin depended in large part on Marlee Kyles hitting her 25-point scoring average -- and then some.
So when the Arizona-bound guard picked up her second foul with 4:47 left in the first quarter, an already daunting task grew exponentially harder.
Sure enough, it took less than two minutes with Kyles on the bench for the Vikings to go on an 11-1 run, turning a 7-4 lead into 18-5.
The game never got any closer. Eleven players scored for the Vikings in a 74-31 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory.
"Our main focus was her," said Geneva junior Stephanie Hart, who along with Brie Borkowicz defended Kyles. "Guard her tight and not let her get the ball back once she passes. She's pretty quick and is good at ballhandling so you don't really know which way she's going to go. She's really good at getting the ball to other players. She's an all-around good player."
Geneva (6-0, 2-0), ranked third in the Daily Herald Top 20, used quick ball movement to carve up Larkin's 2-3 zone. The Vikings shot 57 percent (17 of 30) from the field in the first half, opening up leads of 21-9 after one quarter and 46-19 at halftime.
During the first-quarter surge with Kyles sitting, Hart scored on a putback, Maddie Yelle assisted Grace Loberg inside, freshman Lindsay Blackmore swished a 3-pointer and Hart scored again.
Larkin coach Steve Knapp put Kyles back in with 2:50 left in the quarter, and she hit 2 free throws. But moments later she was whistled for an offensive foul and went back to the bench with three first-quarter fouls.
"I took a gamble because without Marlee in the game sometimes it gets a little out of hand," Knapp said. "Her third foul was the correct call and the floodgates opened up a little."
That they did. Brittany Caskey drained a pair of 3s in the second quarter. Margaret Whitley had 11 points by halftime and Loberg 10.
Kyles played the final four minutes of the second quarter and quickly drove for 3 baskets. But by the time she got back in the game Geneva led 36-15.
"We kind of knew she struggled with that (foul trouble) so we talked about go at her," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "She's so good. It's kind of fun to watch her play. But overall I thought our defense was good. Offensively we're still clicking. We really wanted to push the ball and I was pleased with that."
Hart, Whitley and Loberg all finished with 14 points. Anilise Bragg capped a 26-point night for Geneva's bench with a 3-pointer.
"The depth is a big positive this year," Hart said. "We know when the starters come out the subs will keep up the intensity and we won't have a drop in talent. We have a lot of solid players this year."
Freshman Aaliyah Dixon led Larkin (3-4, 0-1) with 14 points and Kyles -- who didn't play in the second half -- added 12. The rest of the team scored just 5.
"As a coach I feel we need to get better as a team without Marlee on the floor," Knapp said. "I wanted to see how we would react to them (Geneva) especially with a lot of their starters in the game I wanted to see how my other girls would do. We just need to get better."