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Larkin played at such a high level Tuesday in Woodstock’s Hoops For Healing Tournament, it almost seemed there was a need to nitpick to find areas of necessary improvement.
The Royals took Cary-Grove apart from the start of a 71-32 victory with a combination of a fast pace, three-point shooting, and intense defense, then talked about needing to make layups and play 32 intense minutes.
“We talked about worrying about the process and not worrying about the results,” Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. “I thought in the second quarter our guys were scoreboard watching instead of just playing in the moment, and great teams don’t do that.
“That’s why we’re not a great team. We’re trying to be one, but that’s why we’re not there yet.”
Quantice Hunter scored 23 points, Kendale McCullum and Drew Jones added 10 points apiece, and the Royals also received three-pointers from four different players.
“I guess we were just feeling it tonight on three-pointers,” Hunter said. “We’ve got a lot of good shooters and a lot of good players on this team, so that’s a plus for us.”
Hunter actually struggled in the first quarter from three-point range until hitting a couple of treys to get going, but Quentin Ruff sank two and Taylor Boley one as the Royals (2-0) went 5-of-9 from three-point range for the quarter. The Royals went on to make 8-of-17 three-pointers for the game.
Hunter finished 9-of-18 from the field overall.
“I thought his energy was a little low early and that resulted in some things he usually doesn’t do, but he picked it up like we all did,” said Carter. “We really liked the second-half effort.”
Larkin, which shot 48 percent from the field for the game (28-of-58), led 23-8 after the first quarter but failed to expand that edge much until the third quarter because of a handful of missed layups.
Then Jones, their 6-foot-6 junior forward, turned from role player to scorer and hit for 10 points on 5-of-5 from the field. Hunter added six in the quarter and McCullum four more as the Royals ran away from a team that was missing a few athletes due to the Trojans (1-1) being in the state football finals this weekend.
“We’ve talked already that guys are going to look like role players on our team some of the time because of the depth,” Carter said.
“There’s going to be spurts where a guy looks like he’s playing better than most people expect. But it’s all sacrifice.
“Drew could get a lot more stat production for a different team, but he’s a big-time player just like a lot of the guys we have are.”
A 23-7 third-quarter edge and the 25 turnovers the Royals forced for the game proved huge. The second-half explosion pleased Carter after Larkin had blown a big lead in its tournament opener before beating Belvidere.
“We challenged them at halftime and said we’re going to see how much better we got in 24 hours,” Carter said.
Cary-Grove, held to 28 percent from the field (11-of-39), had no one with more than five points.
The Royals also had nine points from Boley and six points from Daniel McFadden.
LARKIN 71, CARY-GROVE 32
Quantice Hunter 9 2-4 23, Drew Jones 5 0-0 10, Quentin Ruff 2 0-0 6, Daniel McFadden 3 0-2 6, Kendale McCullum 3 4-4 10, Brayden Royse 2 0-0 4, Taylor Boley 3 1-1 9, Hannibal Marshall 1 0-0 3, Alex Feliciano 0 0-2 0. Totals 28 7-13 71.
Tyler Szydlo 2 0-0 4, Clay Marunde 2 0-0 5, Michael Krich 0 3-4 3, Steve Plazak 2 0-0 4, Dean Lee 1 2-5 5, Matt Motzel 1 2-4 4, Ian May 1 0-0 2, Andrew Splitt 1 0-0 3, Patrick Kennedy 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 9-15 32.
Larkin 23 13 23 12 -- 71
Cary-Grove 8 12 7 5 -- 32
3-point field goals: Larkin (8) -- Hunter 3, Ruff 2, Boley 2, Marshall 1. Cary-Grove (1) -- Marunde 1.