With Marlee Kyles, the centerpiece of the Larkin girls basketball team the past few seasons now at Arizona, a young group of players trying to fill her void are bound to have some growing pains this year.
That was evident on Monday night in the season opener as the Royals fell to an impressive McHenry team 85-43 in opening round action of the Burlington Central Thanksgiving Tournament.
"That's a very good team we ran into tonight," Larkin coach Steve Knapp said. "It was just good to finally get some game time in. We have a young team and they just need to get some varsity minutes under them. It's going to be a learning process, but we have some talent. We'll get a lot better as the year goes on."
The Warriors came out on a fire in the first quarter as they connected on 14 of 21 shots from the field and jumped out to a 34-17 lead.
Aannah Interrante led the way for McHenry. She scored 15 of her game-high 28 points in the first quarter, including 3 of her 6 three-pointers. The Warriors as a team shot 13 of 26 from the 3-point arc.
"We started out in man defense and they took it right to us," Knapp said. "So we switched to zone and they torched that with 3-pointers. There wasn't much we could do to stop them. I did think after we gave up 34 in the first quarter we were able to slow them down some what after that, but they are a tough team to stop."
It didn't help the Royals case that sophomore Brianna Young, who is expected to be the team's top scoring threat, was in foul trouble from the get go. Young headed to the bench with her second foul just a little over a minute into the game. When she returned to the floor in the second quarter she quickly picked up her third foul and saw limited time the rest of the way.
"That didn't help," Knapp said. "We lose a lot of offense and length on the floor without Brianna. She was just really anxious to get out there and was a little over aggressive. That's something she will have to learn to control."
Seniors Haley Bohne and Gloria Stoltz led the Royals with 8 points a piece. Stoltz had a pair of 3-pointers. Knapp was also impressed with the play of freshman Alexia Saldivar off the bench. Saldivar had 4 points.
"I liked the way she came in and showed she can handle the ball," Knapp said. "She played aggressive and went up strong with the ball a few times."