The Royals have reclaimed the throne.
The Larkin boys basketball team clinched at least a share of the Upstate Eight Conference River Division for the first time in four seasons with a 52-50 victory at Batavia Saturday night.
Larkin inbounded to senior Kindrel "Nomo" Morris in the backcourt with 12 seconds left in a tied game and the three-year varsity veteran did the rest.
Morris dribbled up the left side to work a designed pick-and-roll at the 3-point line with senior guard Anthony Lynch, who had already scored 19 points.
However, Lynch was well covered by Batavia's Eric Peterson so Morris bypassed toward the corner and made an abrupt stop. His defender overpursued by a step so the 5-foot-8 guard cut inside and drove to the basket with the speed that made him an all-conference running back. He then sank a running one-hander over the outstretched hand of an oncoming help defender with six seconds to play for what proved to be the winning bucket.
"They weren't going to leave Lynch," Morris said. "They wouldn't want Lynch to shoot the last shot so I just took it."
Batavia inbounded with under three seconds left and the clock running. A desperation heave from three-quarters court fell well short and the Royal celebration began.
Morris was immediately enveloped from all directions by teammates excited to celebrate the first Upstate Eight Conference River Division championship for Larkin (17-6, 9-0) since consecutive titles in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
"Three conference championship in six years?" marveled ninth-year Larkin coach and alum Deryn Carter, whose first two teams went 5-49 combined. "I mean, that's ... I'd like to think that we thought that when we got the job but man, we've come a long way."
"We came into the season with high expectations," Lynch said. "It's great that we actually accomplished one of our goals."
Senior Jalen Shaw led Larkin with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Coach Jim Nazos called it "a tough loss" for Batavia (19-7, 6-4), which had rallied from a 6-point deficit with under three minutes to play to tie the game and held possession with a chance to win.
The Bulldogs trailed 50-44 until senior Blake Carlson drained a 3-pointer with 2:55 left. Carlson was subsequently fouled by Morris on a 3-point attempt and made all 3 free throws to make it 50-50 with 1:52 remaining. Larkin was subsequently whistled for traveling with 1:31 to go, giving the Bulldogs possession with a chance to complete the comeback.
Batavia held possession for over a minute bridged by a timeout. Eventually, senior guard Kyle LeFevre, who paced the Bulldogs with 11 points, made a move toward the basket, guarded by Pierre Black. While attempting a spin move with his back to the rim, he was likewise called for traveling with 12 seconds left, setting the stage for Morris.
"Kyle in space going to the rim? I'll take it every time," Batavia coach Jim Nazos said.
Batavia lost for the fourth time in five games despite a near upset of the undefeated UEC River champs.
"Deryn has always had tremendous class with us," Nazos said. "When we won (conference) at their place two years ago, he came over and congratulated us so I'd just like to say congratulations to them."
Eric Peterson and Zach Weber each finished with 9 points for Batavia.