On one hand, Larkin coach Deryn Carter preaches defense first so losing 90-74 Wednesday to highly regarded Uplift in the second round of the Proviso West Tournament won't go down as the highlight of his holiday season.
On the other hand, heading to the fourth quarter with his Royals within 4 points of a talented team powered by brothers Damarius Jacobs, a senior committed to Southern Illinois, and Markese Jacobs, a sophomore already committed to Kansas, means it won't be the lowlight.
"Overall, not bad," Carter said in assessment after Uplift (10-2) pulled away with a 30-18 fourth quarter. "If we were scared of playing good teams, then we shouldn't be in this tournament. So, overall, not bad."
Forward Jalen Shaw scored a team-high 26 points to go with 5 rebounds and senior guard Kashmir Ivy sank a pair of 3-pointers in a 16-point effort for Larkin (5-6), but it wasn't enough to offset the huge game by Damarius Jacobs, a 6-foot-3, 168-pound guard the public address announcer at one point called "a one-man wrecking crew."
The future Saluki scored 37 points on 16-of-20 shooting, including multiple drives that began outside the 3-point arc and concluded with a smooth lay in around, over or through Larkin defenders.
"When I come off the screen and I see a big fella, I just attack," Jacobs said after scoring 26 second-half points. "No matter what you've just got to get to the basket and that was my main focus."
Damarius Jacobs also had 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 blocks while committing one personal foul. His defense ignited a game-changing 9-1 run at the fourth quarter's outset. He blocked 2 Larkin shots in the same possession, which created a runout for Markese Jacobs. The 6-foot sophomore wowed the crowd by rising for a windmill dunk, one of five second-half dunks for the Titans.
Uplift, which entered December tied for the top ranking in Class 2A, made 58.5 percent of its shots from the field (38 of 65) and 53.3 percent from 3-point range (8 of 15). Five players finished in double figures: Toraze Dobbs (16 points), Markese Jacobs (12), Michael Flenory (12) and Joe Todd (11).
Nevertheless, Larkin's junior-heavy starting five acquitted itself well. When the Titans surged to a 38-28 lead midway through the second quarter, the Royals reeled them in 10-0 run, powered by 6 of junior guard Anthony Lynch's 18 points. He also posted 8 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists.
Larkin made 46.7 percent of its shots (28 of 60), but the offense wasn't Carter's concern afterward.
"They're really good, but to give up 90 points to anybody in high school is a lot of points," he said. "We didn't make some adjustments that we need to make to take the next step, to be that type of team that beats those types of teams. We've just got to adjust a little bit better. You can't fault our effort or our energy, which is what we've been holding the guys accountable for."
Larkin resumes tournament play at Proviso West against Hillcrest (7-4) Thursday at 2 p.m.
Oak Park-River Forest 55, St. Charles North 48: PONTIAC -- Tom Poulin was frank after his St. Charles North boys basketball team suffered its first loss this month Wednesday morning.
"We weren't ready to play," Poulin said after the North Stars dropped a 55-48 decision to Oak Park-River Forest in the opener of the Pontiac Holiday Tournament. "That's on me. I have to do a better job of preparing the boys."
In a battle of once-beaten programs, OPRF (10-1) received 16 points each from Jared Scott and Cameron Gross to turn back the North Stars (8-2).
St. Charles North will play Plainfield North in the consolation bracket on Thursday morning.
OPRF scored 15 of the first 18 points of the game, and the Huskies' unrelenting defense not only forced 24 St. Charles North turnovers but also contributed to the North Stars missing plenty of very makable shots.
"We missed a lot of bunnies," said St. Charles North junior post Kyle King, who scored 10 points. "We definitely should have made them. We have made them plenty of times before."
OPRF scored the first 8 points in never trailing.
Eric Larsen and King were the only two players for St. Charles North in the opening quarter, which ended with the Huskies leading 15-5.
King had a pair of field goals sandwiched by an Anthony Delisi free throw to get the deficit under single digits. Delisi hit a pair of free throws in the last half-second to make it 22-15 in favor of OPRF at the break.
But the turnovers that were a game-long issue for St. Charles North become problematic yet again in the third quarter.
"(The number of turnovers) was double what we want to commit," Poulin said. "We have done a nice job of taking care of the basketball this season. We got sped up and looked uncomfortable."
The Huskies rebuilt their double-digit cushion and retained it for the entire third quarter.
Luke Scheffers made an admirable contribution to St. Charles North off the bench. The North Stars' guard led the team with 12 points, including two 3-pointers.
"I thought we came out with a lot of energy, but St. Charles North runs some amazing offensive sets," OPRF coach Matt Maloney said. "I even thought in the final minute it was anybody's game."
"We look at this (game) like we missed an opportunity," Poulin said.
-- Kevin McGavin
Elgin 59, Crystal Lake Central 41: With two starters averaging a combined 27 points per game out of the lineup, Elgin turned to its defense against Crystal Lake Central.
The Maroons held the Tigers to 2 points in the third quarter and 13 for the half in a 59-41 victory Wednesday in the consolation championship game of the EC Nichols Holiday Tournament at Marengo.
Courtese Cooper led four Maroons in double figures with 15 points while adding 10 rebounds. Dan Toolsie added 14 points, Titus Ahrens 11, and Trevon Morris 10 for Elgin (8-5).
Elgin trailed 12-9 in the waning moments of the first quarter. But a 3-pointer by Cooper at the end of the period started an 11-2 run that put the Maroons ahead to stay.
Elgin led by 7 at the half and it pulled away throughout the third quarter, holding the Tigers to a single field goal in that span. Elgin, meanwhile, racked up 14 points, with Toolsie accounting for 6 of those on a 3-pointer, a 2-pointer, and a free throw.
With Reggie Cole already out of the Maroons' lineup, Tim Wolf was a late scratch. He became ill during warmups and was replaced in the starting lineup by Ahrens.
The Maroons' halftime adjustments weren't all that complicated.
"In the first half of a game, you're going to see everything that a team does," said Elgin coach Mike Sitter. "So we said at halftime, there's nothing that will surprise us, there's nothing we can't guard, let's just come out and shut them down.
"We held them to 2 points and we didn't commit a foul. So its not like we were out there just hacking and reaching. We were moving our feet, guarding the passing lanes, and waiting for them to make a mistake instead of them waiting for us to make a mistake."
That they did, holding the Tigers to 1-for-8 shooting. For the game, the Tigers hit just 32 percent while Elgin made 20 of its 41 shot attempts.
The Maroons also held a 28-25 advantage on the boards, with Roy Panthier grabbing 7.
-- Allen Oshinski
West Chicago 58, Hampshire 38: Hampshire coach Ben Whitehouse cited Tai Bibbs' 3 from the left wing late in the third quarter, and his 3 free throws early in the fourth after being fouled on another long try as main daggers against the Whips (2-8).
"For three quarters we definitely felt like we were the aggressors in the game and we were attacking the paint, and doing things nice defensively," Whitehouse said.
West Chicago (9-3) held a tenuous 33-28 lead at halftime, but Bibbs and Devonte Pascal -- who joined Gimre with 8 points -- keyed a 14-4 run that had the Wildcats up 53-34 at the time of Bibbs' landmark dunk.
"I think it was more mental than anything. We just couldn't get our heads back in the game after that," said Hampshire center Nathan Gomez, who like Nathan Cork scored 8 points and led a 32-27 rebounding edge over West Chicago. Frederick Powell led Hampshire with 13 points, 7 rebounds.
-- Dave Oberhelman
St. Charles East 62, Urban Prep 50: Justin Hardy hit for 23 points while Nate Ortiz had 18 points and 8 rebounds Wednesday as the St. Charles East boys basketball team defeated Urban Prep Engelwood 62-50 in the consolation bracket of the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic.
Zach Robinson added 9 points for the Saints (9-3), who will play Maine South on Thursday. The Saints set a tournament record with 11 3s.
Dundee-Crown 54, Clemente 43: At the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, Tariq Burns had 16 points and Jack Orndahl added 12 to lead Dundee-Crown (2-9) to the win.
Huntley 55, Mundelein 44: Chris Costantino had 14 points to lead the Red Raiders (4-6) to a consolation bracket win at the Chuck Dayton Holiday Classic in DeKalb.
Batavia 41, TF South 39: Colin Cheaney had 18 points to lead the Bulldogs (6-6) to a win at the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York.
Harvest Christian 69, Sycamore 41: Brennen Woods had 18 points and JJ Flores added 15 to lead the Lions (12-4) to a win in the fifth place game at the Marengo tournament.
Perspectives 86, St. Edward 67: Kelvin Cortez-Harvey had 27 points and Steve Paremba 26 for St. Edward (6-8) at the ICCP/Westmont tournament.
ACC 69, East Aurora 48: Brett Czerak scored 27 points to lead Aurora Central (9-2) to the win at the East Aurora tournament. The Chargers will play Joliet Catholic for the championship on Thursday.
Danville 62, West Aurora 61: West Aurora squandered the lead late and fell in the first round of the Pontiac tournament.