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Larkin's Derrick Streety (left) puts up a shot as he drives past Elgin's Malik Parham-Dunner on Friday. | Michael R. Schmidt ~ For Sun-Times Media
For an instant, it seemed like Elgin would finally get its much sought-after win against crosstown rival Larkin on Friday.
The Maroons had outplayed the Royals the entire second half, rallying from a 16-point deficit to within two. Larkin’s Quentin Ruff missed a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left, and despite not having a timeout Elgin star Arie Williams grabbed the rebound, pushed the ball across half court and had it in his hands with time winding down.
Amid the pandemonium of the final seconds, the moment of opportunity disappeared. Williams found himself triple teamed near the sideline, and Larkin junior Kendale McCullum came up with his fifth steal of the game when he ripped the ball from Williams with three seconds left before dribbling out the clock as the Royals survived a 68-66 Upstate Eight River thriller at Chesbrough Field House.
“I was just trying to get the ball out of Arie’s hands because we’ve seen what he can do in clutch situations like this,” McCullum said.
Williams drained eight three-pointers and finished with a game-high 25 points, but it wasn’t enough as Elgin (10-11, 2-7) lost to Larkin (20-3, 9-2) for the third time this season. The victory keeps the Royals tied for first place in the UEC River with St. Charles East, but it certainly didn’t come easy.
Larkin led 36-20 late in the second quarter, but the second half was an entirely different story as the Maroons played some of their best basketball of the season and outscored their adversary 41-29 over the final two quarters.
Ruff scored 17 of his team-high 21 points in the first half for the Royals, who managed only two points over the final 5:05.
“(Elgin) played really hard, but we’ll take (the win) however we can get it,” Ruff said.
Elgin’s William Gibson scored on a putback with 47 seconds left to cap a 10-2 Maroons run that cut Larkin’s lead to 68-66. Royals guard Derrick Streety was called for an offensive foul on the ensuing possession, but Elgin couldn’t capitalize as Williams missed a three and Ryan Sitter missed a point-blank shot in the lane.
Ruff grabbed the long rebound on Sitter’s miss and was fouled with 11 seconds left, but he missed his two attempts after making his first six tries at the line on the night. The Maroons then got the ball to Williams, who has hit two game-winning shots this season, but the play they were looking for never developed.
“Half the guys thought we were in one thing and half thought we were in another, “ Elgin coach Mike Sitter said of the final sequence. “Everybody ran to half court and brought a defender with them, making it easier to double and triple team Arie instead of spreading the court like we were supposed to.”
Quantice Hunter posted 14 points for Larkin while McCullum chipped in with 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks in addition to his takeaways. Derrick Streety also contributed nine points off the bench.
Eric Sedlack had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Elgin, which had its lead in the all-time series trimmed to 79-43. Malik Dunner added 10 points.
“In the first half when (Larkin) had that little run and we missed layup after layup, it really killed us,” Williams said. “We missed like 12 layups in the game, and that’s 24 points.”
LARKIN 68, ELGIN 66
Larkin (20-3, 9-2)
Ruff 6 6-8 21, Hunter 5 3-3 14, McCullum 2 6-6 10, Streety 4 1-3 9, Royse 2 0-0 5, McFadden 2 1-2 5, Jones 1 1-2 3, Marshall 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 19-26 68.
Elgin (10-11, 2-7)
Williams 8 1-2 25, Sedlack 6 3-7 16, Dunner 3 4-6 10, Butler 3 0-0 6, Sitter 2 0-0 5, Gibson 2 0-0 4. Totals 24 8-15 66.
Larkin 20 19 17 12 -- 68
Elgin 12 13 23 18 -- 66
Three-point goals -- Larkin: 5 (Ruff 3, Hunter, Royse). Elgin: 10 (Williams 8, Sitter, Sedlack). Fouled out -- None.