Larkin dominant in knocking off Boylan
When Rockford Boylan senior Zach Couper hit his first three 3-point attempts Tuesday night, Larkin's boys basketball team didn't panic in the least.
Instead, Royals' coach Deryn Carter called time out, calmed things down and sent his team back out to play.
"We knew if we just stayed with our defensive philosophy (Boylan's) legs might tire out," Carter said.
The legs that didn't tire out were Larkin's. The Royals put on a defensive clinic, ran their offense efficiently and came away with a stunning 62-51 win over Boylan in the first semifinal of the Class 4A Elgin sectional at Chesbrough Field House.
"We live to play another day," smiled Carter.
That day will be Friday when the Royals (19-14), a No. 5 sub-sectional seed, take on the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between Jacobs and Hononegah. Friday's winner will head to the Sears Centre next Tuesday for an Elite Eight matchup against the winner of the Arlington Heights sectional.
The trip to Friday's Sweet Sixteen game is the first for Carter in his eight years as his alma mater's head coach and the first for the Royals since 2005, when they reached a supersectional in the two-class system. No Larkin team has advanced past the Sweet Sixteen.
Juniors Jalen Shaw (17 points, 14 rebounds, 6 blocks) and Anthony Lynch (16 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) led the way for the Royals Tuesday.
Larkin's defense was as good as it gets. So good in fact that Boylan (27-5), a No. 1 sub-sectional seed, made more 3-pointers than 2-pointers, which spelled disaster for the Titans as they were 9 of 23 from 3-point range including 3 of 12 in the fourth quarter.
"Our guys played so well defensively, keeping people out of the paint," said Carter. "That's how we practice. They're so competitive and they're always working so hard. When they come out here it's just another night. That's been a staple of our program."
Added Lynch: "Our defense was huge. Coach does a great job of focusing on defense in practice and he always says practice makes progress."
A 13-0 Larkin run that bridged the second and third quarters made the difference in the game.
The Royals trailed 27-26 late in the second quarter when a Lynch basket sparked a 6-0 run that included a bucket from Max Wiskirchen with 35 seconds left and then a spinning drive through the lane for a layup at the buzzer by Kashmir Ivy that gave Larkin a 32-27 halftime lead.
Larkin then went on a 7-0 spurt to begin the second half as Boylan missed its first 8 shots of the third quarter. Lynch scored once and Shaw twice before a steal and layup from Kindrel Morris with 3:13 left in the period put the Royals up 39-27.
"That run at the end of the second quarter was huge," Carter said. "To go in up five, that was a heck of a cushion to have."
Boylan did cut the lead to 7, 47-40, with 4:52 left to play but the Royals put things out of reach with a 10-2 run over the next 2:26. Larkin's biggest lead of the game was 57-42 after a Lynch free throw with 2:12 left, which came 28 seconds after Lynch fed Shaw an alley-oop for a monstrous slam that sent Larkin's fans into a frenzy."
Boylan cut the lead to 9, 57-48, with 1:31 to go on 3s from Max Farson and Couper but a Lynch free throw and another slam from the 6-foot-10 Shaw put the Titans away for good.
"We all came together as one tonight," said Lynch. "I'm excited for the next game and I'm ready for it."
Sophomore Pierre Black added 13 points for Larkin including three 3-pointers, while Morris had 10 points. Larkin shot 26 of 54 from the field and all 23 Larkin 2-point field goals were scored in the paint. Larkin also won the rebound battle 40-31.
The Air Force-bound Couper had 23 points for Boylan, which was 17 of 48 shooting. Kevin Diemer added 16 points for the Titans.
"It was tough with their quickness," said first-year Boylan coach Brett McAllister, whose team was the undefeated NIC-10 champion and defeated Larkin in overtime at the Rockford MLK Tournament.
"They're just so quick and they were getting in the paint a lot. Their pressure between the volleyball lines is pretty good and their speed and athleticism really hurt us"