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Whether it was a nonconference, holiday tournament game one night after a big back-to-back Upstate Eight River win, or simply South Elgin’s high energy, Larkin came out flat Saturday in the opening round of the Jim Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs.
That lasted for all of two minutes. Coach Deryn Carter called timeout and let the Royals collect themselves. Larkin exploded for a 30-point first quarter, 56-point first half and buried South Elgin 88-61.
“Basically, coach said we had to step it up,” Larkin senior Brayden Royse said. “We knew that, and he said we had to bring more intensity and we did.
“With this team, playing three games in three nights shouldn’t be an excuse [for being flat]. We should always play hard.”
Usually content to feed teammates, set screens or block out on the boards, Royse struck for six first-quarter points and four rebounds to help energize the Royals.
“Brayden was just doing what he does with us every day in practice,” Carter said. “He’s very unselfish in his ways and accepting of whatever role he has.
“Our guys all know it’s a night-by-night basis and what can happen and who is going to carry us.”
Derrick Streety nailed two first-quarter three-pointers and had 10 of his 11 points the first quarter, while Andrew Jones had five of his 11 points in the quarter.
Larkin shot 55 percent for the first quarter (12-for-22), 71 percent the second quarter (10-for-14), dominated the boards 21-8 in the first half and forced 16 South Elgin turnovers before halftime to turn the second half into a JV contest, with the exception of one highlight:
Freshman Christian Negron made his second slam dunk of the night, this on an alley-oop play, starting the second half and it seemed to signal all was done for this game.
Taylor Boley scored 16 points to lead Larkin, all of them coming after the Royals had piled up a 38-19 lead. He hit three second-quarter three-pointers to squash any thoughts of a comeback.
“We were able to get out and get in transition and got some steals right away and brought a lot of energy,” South Elgin coach Matt Petersen said. “The energy drives us.
“But they changed to playing more half-court pressure and we knew we couldn’t get into that type of game. The game changed right after that timeout.”
Darius Wells scored 14 points to lead South Elgin (4-6) and Matt McClure had nine.
The Royals (10-1) get a well-deserved one-day rest after three games in three nights.
“One day will seem like a week to these guys after three straight games,” Carter said.