Larkin ends game on 25-3 run to pull away from Elgin
Hard-nosed defense has been a common staple of Larkin's basketball program in recent years.
This season, however, has been a little different story, according to Royals coach Deryn Carter.
"It hasn't been that way this year for us," Carter said of the team's defensive prowess.
That tough man-to-man, trapping defense returned during Larkin's 67-38 Upstate Eight Conference victory over cross-town rival Elgin (8-11, 1-8) Friday night on the Royals' home floor.
After holding the Maroons without a field goal for the final 5 ½ minutes of the opening half while building a 37-24 halftime advantage, the Royals (7-11, 5-4) clamped down once again in the second half, not allowing a basket for more than 10 ½ minutes.
Leading 42-35 with 3:09 left in the third quarter, the Royals went on a 25-0 run over the next 10-plus minutes to seal the decision.
"We need to be that and we haven't been that," Carter said of his team's tough defense. "Hopefully, this is a good steppingstone to build off defensively."
Junior guard Jakob Blakley, who scored a game-high 24 points with 4 rebounds, agreed with his head coach.
"I think our defense was the difference, getting those stops -- especially those turnovers where they (Maroons) threw it out of bounds or those steals where they threw it right to us. Our defense changed the outcome of that game."
Adrian York added 12 points for the Royals, while Logan Leaver and Darnell Wilder chipped in with 9 and 8 points, respectively.
Larkin received a huge lift from its bench, which outscored Elgin's reserves, 22-2.
"They came in and provided a spark for us," said Carter.
"For the most part, I was happy with what our guys brought to the table."
Sidelined since last summer by an injury, Blakley appears to be rounding into form quickly since his return to the court late last month.
"I feel like speed-wise, I'm 100 percent," said Blakley, who shot 7 for 13 with a pair of 3-pointers. "Because I took six months off, some of my reads still aren't there. It takes some time to come back, especially on my transition layups."
Carter feels the same transition taking place with his team.
"Playing the first half of the season without 'Cheese' (Blakley), and then in and out, in and out of the lineup, we're trying to get our rhythm for sure," said Carter.
"We've got another one tomorrow (at Prairie Ridge), but I think we're moving in the right direction."
Junior guard Maddox Hollian had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Elgin.
"The effort is there, but we deviate from our plan at times," said Elgin coach Brett Johnson. "We had to play a workmanlike game against them tonight, and we got away from that when their pressure got to us."
The Maroons took some positives from the loss.
"I asked them in the locker room, 'how did this compare to last year when you lost by 70 (87-17) and 66 (86-20)?'" said Johnson. "They felt like the game was competitive."
Prior to the boys' game, Larkin's girls defeated Elgin 56-50 behind a 28-point performance from senior forward Baylei Johnson, who recently topped the career 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound marks. Freshman Sanaii McPherson added 12 points for the Royals (9-10, 6-4).
Elgin (7-14, 0-10) was led by Alyssa Wysuph's 17 points. Izzie Castro and Izzy Vidallo added 13 and 11 points, respectively.