Johnson, Larkin pull away from Fenton in third quarter
Fenton threw lots of bodies at Larkin, but none of them could match up with Baylei Johnson.
Larkin's 6-foot-1 freshman scored 31 points in a breakout performance as the Royals downed the Bison 82-58 in the Royals' home opener in Elgin.
Johnson also pulled down 21 rebounds, blocked 3 shots and dished out a couple of assists in their Upstate Eight Conference opener.
Larkin blitzed the visitors at the start of both halves. The Royals raced out to a 13-3 lead. After a 4-point play cut the lead to 36-31 at halftime, Larkin opened the second half on a 13-0 run to go up 49-31. They increased the lead to 66-39 by early fourth quarter.
The Bison sent waves of players into the game, often substituting five at a time. All 17 Bison saw action and 12 of them scored. They moved the ball quickly and fired up 3-point attempts. They made them in bunches, allowing them to get back in the game relatively quickly.
"We're finding out that the move to the Upstate Eight Conference from where we were (Metro Suburban Conference), it's a big-girl conference here," said Fenton coach Dave Mello. "They had a lot of size. We knew about (seniors Brianna Young and Aaliyah Dixon) and then (Johnson) had a field day down there.
"We talked at halftime about, hey, even if they go up 15 we're still fine. We just get on a little bit of a run, but when they took it up to the mid-20s, then it got a little out of control."
Ashley Miller added 15 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists. Dixon chipped in 11 points for Larkin (2-4, 0-1).
Nikolina Maric scored 13 and Maja Gakovic added 10. Elizabeth Aguirre scored 9 points, all on 3-pointers for the Bison (3-2, 0-2).
But it was a coming-out party for Johnson.
"I had a pretty rough start to the season, so I felt I needed to help my team out a little more," she said. "It feels great to get the win before the home fans."
The lopsided win was an ideal way for the Royals to make a statement in their first game in front of a home crowd.
"We told the girls that we want to set the tone early in conference," said Larkin coach Steve Knapp. "It's the conference opener, a home game. Like I've said before, I think we have the potential to win 20 games. Now we came out in the (Burlington Central) tournament and looked a little inexperienced. But this is a good start at home."