Fast start sends Larkin past West Chicago
Slow starts have been a problem for Larkin recently. But not so Thursday night against West Chicago.
The Royals led 21-7 after one quarter while coasting to a 64-48 win in Elgin.
A change in the starting lineup helped jump-start the Royals, who stretched the lead to as many as 30 points in the third quarter in the Upstate Eight matchup.
Victor Perez scored 20 points and freshman Fernando Perez, who got the start, added 13 for Larkin (8-14, 5-6). The pair combined for 6 of Larkin's 9 3-pointers.
"It's about time," said Larkin coach Deryn Carter. "We hadn't started out very well. We kind of changed up our starting lineup, inserted a guy who brings a lot of energy and effort and maybe it made a difference."
The Royals' tenacious defense held the Wildcats to 26 points through three quarters. West Chicago shot 24 percent from the floor in the first half while committing 12 turnovers.
"We got our energy from the defensive end," Carter said. "We played really well defensively and that's obviously a staple of our program. We're trying to get our guys to understand that's our identity. The more we can work at it, the better we can get."
Jashon Johnson-Neals added 9 points and 8 rebounds, while Damari Wheeler-Thomas had 8 points and 5 boards for Larkin.
Raed Haroon scored 7 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter as West Chicago cut a 51-21 deficit to 58-43 in the fourth, but the Wildcats could get no closer.
Jordan Wilkins and Isaac Nelson scored 7 points apiece for the Wildcats.
Chris Rose scored on 2 transition layups sandwiched around a pair of Wildcat free throws, and Johnson-Neals made 4 straight from the foul line as Larkin opened up a 17-4 lead early.
A 3-pointer by Nelson made it 17-7, but Fernando Perez answered with a layup and later a free throw, and Wheeler-Thomas added 2 free throws to make it 21-7 after a quarter.
When Victor Perez opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer, the rout was on in earnest.
Victor Perez scored 10 points in the third quarter as the Royals continued to stretch the lead.