Last-second layup gives Larkin's Carter 200th win
Larkin executed the inbounds play exactly the way coach Deryn Carter drew it up.
With the score tied at 60 and 4.3 seconds remaining, Jamarion Stubbs inbounded the ball to Fernando Perez, who laid the ball in the basket as time expired.
The result was an exhilarating 62-60 Upstate Eight Conference win for the Royals over upset-minded East Aurora in Elgin Friday night.
Stubbs explained the game-winner.
"We knew East Aurora would concentrate on Damari (Wheeler-Thomas)," said Stubbs. "I was patient and made sure Fernando was open. We had never run the play before."
Perez and Wheeler-Thomas scored 20 points each to lead the Royals (26-3, 17-0). Perez also secured 9 rebounds while Wheeler-Thomas dealt out 6 assists and had 5 steals for the winners.
"It was a double screen and Jamarion was patient," said Perez. "I came off the screens and I got the ball in the perfect spot. East Aurora always plays us tough. They are very physical. It is good to play in a game like this. We certainly have to win a game like this in the playoffs."
The Royals, which clinched its second consecutive UEC title Tuesday, garnered win No. 200 for Carter.
"I have had a lot of great players and athletes over the years," said Carter. "They have sacrificed a lot for the good of the program. This group has achieved a lot with back-to-back conference titles."
After the game was tied at 13 after one quarter, the Royals seemed to seize control of the game in the second quarter.
With Wheeler-Thomas and Perez scoring 10 apiece along with a 3 from sophomore guard Jakub Blakley, Larkin outscored the visiting Tomcats 23-11 and led 36-24 at intermission.
East Aurora refused to quit.
On a 3-pointer by Ralph Clark, the Tomcats climbed within 47-42 after 24 minutes of action.
With Larkin leading 60-58, Calvin Savage drained 2 free throws with 13 seconds left to tie the score at 60 which set up Stubbs and Perez's heroics.
Blakley backed up Perez and Wheeler-Thomas with 9 points on three 3-pointers while Stubbs scored 6 with 4 assists.
Savage led a balanced East Aurora (16-9, 10-6) scoring attack with 15 points including a 3, Jullian Acosta scored 14 while Clark scored 11 and Jabian Acosta tallied 10.