Larkin to meet Elgin for title
The Larkin boys basketball team played in the first game of the 38th annual Elgin Holiday Tournament.
Now the Royals will get to finish the tournament as well.
Larkin advanced to today's championship game against crosstown rival Elgin, the defending tournament champion, by beating Upstate Eight Conference River Division foe Batavia, 57-43, in the semifinals Friday night at Chesbrough Field House.
"That was the goal. We wanted to open the tournament and end it," Royals coach Deryn Carter said. "We're three-quarters of the way there. We have one big one to get though."
The Royals (13-2), who beat Elgin 76-73 on Dec. 12 in a double-overtime thriller at Larkin, have won eight straight.
Larkin struggled from 3-point range against Batavia (5-8). Quantice Hunter hit the Royals' first 3-point attempt, but they failed to connect on any of their final 13 attempts. So Larkin attacked the basket and the glass.
The Royals, who never trailed, grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, leading to numerous second-chance baskets.
"They weren't shooting the ball well. They found other ways to score," Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. "They got a lot of putbacks and got some baskets in transition. They did a very good job of finding other ways to get on the board."
The Bulldogs kept the game close until the fourth quarter. Larkin led by 10 midway through the second quarter, but Batavia cut the deficit down to 3, 25-22, at the break, mostly thanks to the outside shooting of Micah Coffey. The junior hit 5 3-pointers in the first half and 6 total to lead all scorers with 20 points.
Larkin led by 9, 31-22, with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter before Batavia answered with a 7-0 run to get within 2. Larkin's Derrick Streety hit a pair of free throws with 1.6 seconds to go in the third to make it 33-29. Quentin Ruff had a 3-point play, Streety followed with a basket and Ruff scored again within a 50-second span to open the fourth to increase the Royals' lead to 40-29. The Bulldogs didn't get within 7 the rest of the game.
Andrew Jones and Brayden Royse each had 12 rebounds for the Royals, who outrebounded the Bulldogs 47-32.
"We wanted to keep them off the glass," said Jones, who also had 8 points. "We knew they hit it really hard."
Hunter finished with 17 points to lead Larkin, which shot 32 percent (19-of-60). Kendale McCullum had 11 points and 8 rebounds. Ruff added 10 points, all in the second half.
Zach Strittmatter had 9 points and 9 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who were just 15-of-52 (29 percent) from the floor.
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