Elgin ends 16-game losing streak to Larkin
The streak is over.
Elgin defeated rival Larkin 55-52 on the city's west side Friday night to snap a 16-game series losing streak that began during President Obama's first term in office.
"This has got to be the greatest feeling I've had since birth," said 6-foot-3 Elgin sophomore Jeffrey Lomax, who finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds. "This is something surreal. I can't believe it's happening. I've got so many emotions going on right now. This is just great."
Elgin (3-7, 1-5 Upstate Eight) defeated Larkin (4-9, 3-3) for the first time since Feb. 10, 2012, largely by crashing the boards better. The Maroons used their height advantage against a smaller Larkin squad to win the rebounding battle 30-19. The Maroons pulled down 12 offensive rebounds to Larkin's 6.
"The shots they missed they rebounded," Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. "More power to those guys. They deserve to win. The deserving team is sitting in the other locker room. In the Elgin-Larkin rivalry, it's been a while since that happened."
Elgin extended its all-time series to 80-56, but it wasn't easy. The Maroons led 13-11 after a quarter, 27-22 at halftime and 41-37 after three quarters.
Twice Elgin built 7-point leads in the final period, but Larkin did not go quietly. Playing without injured senior guard Pierre Black (labrum), the Royals drew within 52-50 with 1:52 left when freshman guard Damari Wheeler-Thomas was fouled and sank 2 free throws.
Larkin had an opportunity to tie with just over a minute left, but an off-balance shot by senior Victor Perez would not fall. Perez led all scorers with 22 points, 16 in the second half.
Elgin rebounded the miss and converted at the other end. Senior Kejuan Harvey scored on a putback to give Elgin a 54-50 lead with 50 seconds to play.
Perez scored on Larkin's next trip, and Elgin subsequently threw the ball out of bounds with 19 seconds on the clock to give the Royals one last chance to tie.
Perez drove the lane with nine seconds remaining, but his bank shot rimmed out. Wheeler grabbed the rebound and had a good look from four feet but could not get the shot to fall, nor the ensuing tip-in attempt.
The tip was rebounded by Lomax, who was fouled and sank the second of two free throws with 1.7 seconds left to establish a 3-point lead.
Larkin inbounded to Perez, but his desperation shot from well beyond midcourt hit the top of the backboard at the buzzer.
The Maroons stormed from the bench and celebrated together at center court, all the while mugging for the television cameras on hand.
"We've seen growth," said first-year Elgin coach Dave Hess, 1-0 against Larkin. "We haven't seen it in wins the last couple of games, but we've talked about seeing growth. They really performed in this moment. I'm so proud of them."
The Elgin players said they were inspired by a pregame talk by alumni Brandon Grissette ('07) and Desmond Douglas ('16).
"The alumni were telling us that we need to pull it off, so basically we just came in and had to compete for 32 minutes," said Elgin junior Xavier Bonds, who finished with 14 points. "We kept the alumni in our heads and fought to the end."
Trey Yarber had 10 points and 5 rebounds, Harvey contributed 8 points and 6 rebounds and Z'Kwan Stewart contributed 8 points and 5 rebounds for Elgin.