Quick start propels Larkin past Elgin

A big losing streak was coming to an end on Saturday afternoon one way or another.

On one side there was the Elgin girls' basketball team, struggling to score during a 10-game losing streak, while on the other was Larkin, which had a 7-game skid going and had not won since last seeing the Maroons.

Despite early foul trouble in the second half and a big push by Elgin, the Royals used a big early lead to secure a 56-40 win on their home court in the first round of the Elgin City Classic.

With neither team playing since the end of December, along with inclement weather canceling practices after the New Year, it was easy to see some rust needed to be shaken off. Luckily for the Royals (4-12) Quixmia Washington found her groove quickly after hitting a pair of free-throws to open the scoring.

On the ensuing possession Larkin caused a turnover and took it back to score, a running theme in the first half. Washington was on the spot once again, draining a jumper to put her team up by 4.

By the time the buzzer signaled the end of the first quarter, the Royals had a 16-9 lead, with five different players finding the bottom of the net including Marlee Kyles, who kept pace with Washington on offense all night in her first game action since Dec. 13 after serving a one-week suspension for being ejected against St. Charles North.

“We wanted to build the lead (early) so we could run our plays how we wanted to. We wanted to keep the tempo our way,” Washington said of her team's fast start.

Larkin coach Ruben Flores agreed.

“We've been telling them to stay focused. To run our game and not run whatever it is (the other team) wants us to do,” he said.

Staying focused and dictating their offense in the second quarter helped the Royals extend their lead to 15 before the half, with 7 players scoring in the quarter for Larkin.

Washington would go into the locker room with 9 points while Kyles followed her with 6.

In the second half the Royals tried to start fast once again, but instead ran into foul trouble, with Washington getting three quick fouls to start off the third quarter and Kyles having three as well.

“We wanted to focus and start fast (in the second half), but we got into foul trouble,” Flores said. “We had to take Q and Marlee out and it got kind of iffy at the end about who would bring the ball up. But the girls responded.”

Despite the fouls, Washington still scored 15 points in the contest and did not pick up another foul, while Kyles also scored 15 but fouled out in the fourth quarter.

While the Royals had the luxury of their fast start, the Maroons (2-13) struggled to keep the ball on their side of the court, turning it over 11 times in the first half and 8 times alone in the first quarter.

“We are still turning the ball over a bit too much,” Elgin coach Dr. Nick Bumbales said. “We need to make a little bit better contact with our girls when we are rebounding.”

Abby Pierre-Louis, in her first game back from injury, led the way in the first half for the Maroons, scoring 8 of her team-high 12 points. But foul trouble late caused her to slow down in the second half as Larkin started to pull away.

Alisha Panthier and sophomore call-up Tiana Stewart each had 9 points for Elgin as well.

Even with the double-digit loss, the Maroons scored over 30 points for the first time in six games and Bumbales still found positives in the game.

“With the weather, holidays and finals going on, we have had maybe five or six practices in the past five weeks,” he said. “Considering we were out that long, we looked crisper than I thought we would.”

Images: Elgin vs Larkin girls basketball

  Elgin's Leesa Mena shoots over Larkin's Samantha Wahl at Larkin Saturday. Brian Hill/
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