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Larkin's Kendale McCullum saves the ball from going out of bounds Thursday against Batavia. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Defeating an opponent three times in one high school basketball season isn’t supposed to be easy, but Larkin completed the task without much trouble Thursday night.
The Royals combined an opportunistic defensive effort with a balanced scoring attack to claim a 69-56 Upstate Eight River win at Batavia. The outcome ends a four-game win streak for the resurgent Bulldogs, whose only two losses in their past nine outings came against Larkin.
The Royals (17-3, 7-2) had five players score in double figures, with senior Quantice Hunter’s 16 points leading the way. Larkin also racked up 13 steals, led by junior Kendale McCullum’s seven swipes.
“We knew what (Batavia’s) guards were capable of doing and we knew their offense,” Hunter said. “We knew if we pressured the ball a little more it would be way harder for them to do some of the things they wanted in their offense and would get them out of their comfort zone.”
Batavia (9-9, 3-5) hung around early and trailed 29-24 at halftime, but the Royals snuffed any hopes of a Bulldogs comeback with a 12-3 run to start the third quarter.
Hunter, who had only one point in the first half, capped the run when he sank a three-pointer to make the score 41-27 with 3:48 left in the third. Larkin maintained a lead of at least 10 points the rest of the way.
Micah Coffey had 19 points, Luke Horton tallied 14 points and Jake Pollack contributed 10 for Batavia. The 69 points allowed were the most given up this season by the Bulldogs, who previously lost to Larkin 56-47 in a UEC River game in early December and 57-43 in the semifinals of the Elgin Holiday Tournament.
“(Larkin coach) Deryn (Carter) does a good job with those guys,” Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. “They play in the system and they do it right. They create turnovers, they finish and they’re unselfish.”
McCullum once again showed off his all-around skills for the Royals. He had five of his seven steals in the first quarter and also racked up 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Quentin Ruff (10 points, six assists, six rebounds), Brayden Royse (10 points. five rebounds) and Derrick Streety (10 points) also had productive games for Larkin, which wasted no time getting back on track after having an 11-game winning streak snapped Saturday against Geneva.
“We were coming off a tough loss against Geneva, so we were really trying to see where we’re at tonight,” McCullum said. “I guess we did what we were supposed to do both offensively and defensively.”
LARKIN 69, BATAVIA 56
Larkin (17-3, 7-2)
Hunter 6 3-6 16, McCullum 4 6-7 14, Streety 3 4-5 10, Ruff 4 1-2 10, Royse 4 2-2 10, Jones 3 0-0 6, Boley 1 0-0 3. Totals 25 16-22 69.
Batavia (9-9, 3-5)
Coffey 6 5-5 19, Horton 5 4-6 14, Pollack 4 2-5 10, Carlson 3 0-0 6, Schuessling 1 0-0 3, Rueffer 0 2-2 2, Strittmatter 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 13-18 56.
Larkin 13 16 18 22 -- 69
Batavia 6 18 11 21 -- 56
Three-point goals -- Larkin: 3 (Hunter, Ruff, Boley). Batavia: 3 (Coffey 2, Schuessling). Fouled out -- Larkin: Jones. Batavia: None.