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Larkin's Kendale McCullum (center) is fouled by South Elgin's Matthew Smith (right) on Tuesday in Elgin. | Michael R. Schmidt ~ For Sun-Times Media

With every game, Kendale McCullum seems to grow more comfortable with his role as Larkin’s offensive and defensive engine.

The junior guard put together another huge all-around effort Tuesday night as the Royals cruised past rival South Elgin 70-51 in Upstate Eight crossover play in Elgin.

McCullum and the rest of Larkin’s starters were able to relax and watch from the bench the entire fourth quarter with the outcome in hand. Despite the shortened court time, McCullum still managed to post 18 points, seven rebounds, five steals and three assists in what is becoming a typical stat line for the 6-foot-1 standout.

“He’s a big-time player,” Larkin coach Deryn Carter said of McCullum. “We’ve seen it for two and a half years now, so we’ve known it’s there.”

South Elgin (5-16) matched the intensity level of its host early on and trailed 13-12 after the first quarter. But with three freshmen in its rotation, the Storm simply couldn’t keep up as the Royals (19-3) piled up 27 points in the second quarter.

McCullum sank a pair of free throws and followed that with a steal and layup 10 seconds later to spark a 19-2 run that gave Larkin a commanding 32-14 lead with 3:10 left in the first half. McCullum had nine points during the run and three steals in the second quarter.

“We’re trying to show Larkin is where basketball gets played,” McCullum said. “We wanted to pressure their guards and force turnovers, and we did pretty well with those things.”

The Storm trailed by at least 13 points the entire second half but did get a pair of solid performances from its big men. Junior Robert Grant racked up a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds while senior Ryne Lundy finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Matt McClure added six points, seven assists and five steals. 

The loss was the fourth in a row for South Elgin, and coach Chaz Taft lamented his team’s inability to sustain its strong start.

“There are 32 minutes in a ballgame, not eight minutes,” Taft said.

Larkin had 11 players enter the scoring column, but senior Quantice Hunter wasn’t among the group as the team’s leading scorer for the season was held without a point.

Drew Jones (nine points), Derrick Streety (eight points), Quentin Ruff (eight points) and Taylor Boley (eight points) were among the other big contributors for the Royals as every player on the team logged extended minutes in the team’s third straight lopsided win.

“We’ve got some guys getting playing time that are going to give us a two-minute spurt here or there that will hopefully help us accomplish some of our big goals on the season,” Carter said.

LARKIN 70, SOUTH ELGIN 51

South Elgin (5-16)
Grant 10 0-2 20, Lundy 4 5-6 13, Howard 2 0-0 6, McClure 3 0-0 6, Smith 1 0-1 2, Padron 1 0-0 2, Amrhein 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 5-9 51.

Larkin (19-3)
McCullum 6 6-10 18, Jones 3 2-2 9, Streety 3 2-3 8, Ruff 3 2-2 8, Boley 2 3-4 8, Royse 2 1-3 5, Barnhart 1 1-2 3, McCracken 1 1-2 3, McFadden 1 1-2 3, Marshall 0 3-4 3, Clemons 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 22-34 70.

South Elgin     12     11     10     18     --     51
Larkin             13     27     15     15     --     70

Three-point goals -- SE: 2 (Howard 2). Larkin: 2 (Jones, Boley). Fouled out -- None.

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