Larkin withstands Elgin's furious comeback

First it was a nailbiter. Then it was a blowout. Then it was a nailbiter again.

Larkin survived a furious Elgin rally and held on for a 55-49 victory in their Upstate Eight matchup Friday at Chesbrough Field House.

Jakob Blakley scored 15 points and Armani Ivy made 2 clutch free throws with 10 seconds left to seal the win.

The Royals appeared on their way to a comfortable win with a 40-19 third-quarter lead.

Led by Maddox Hollian, the Maroons began to chip away but Larkin still led 49-35 early in the fourth.

Then the Maroons caught fire. They reeled off a 14-2 run that included 4 straight 3-pointers, 3 of them by Angel Nunez. The fourth, by Hollian, cut the lead to 51-49 with 20 seconds to play.

The Maroons forced a turnover to get the ball back with a chance to tie or go ahead but their shooting streak finally ended. Ivy grabbed the rebound of a missed 3-pointer and got fouled. He made both free throws and the Royals could finally exhale.

"There's no such thing as an ugly win in this rivalry, so we'll take it," said Royals coach Deryn Carter. "Our guys executed down the stretch. Those last couple of plays, we did what we wanted to do. I would have liked to win the game more comfortably, but that's being greedy in a rivalry."

"We just wanted to stand our ground and keep our composure," Ivy said when asked how the Royals withstood the late rally.

Still, beating the crosstown rival is always a good feeling.

"It feels real good," Adrian York said. "It's my last year and I get to go out like this."

Even though the Maroons didn't get the "W," coach Brett Johnson sensed the comeback and near miss could provide a critical steppingstone for his rebuilding program.

"I just told them, 'This moment, this game, could make the change for the Elgin program,' because even though we lost, we haven't played a game like that since East Aurora. And they wanted it. We challenged them in the locker room at halftime. I said, 'I don't know if you can win this game because you don't want it.' And they went out there and took that to heart."

Larkin led just 10-9 after the first period, but threatened to blow the game open with a huge second quarter. The Royals outscored the hosts 23-5 to lead 33-14 at the break.

Ivy and Darnell Wilder each added 12 points off the bench for Larkin (12-14, 9-5). York chipped in with 11 points and 6 rebounds.

Hollian finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds for Elgin (9-16, 2-12). Nunez finished with 12 points while Micah Giovenco added 9.

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