Fox boys basketball notes: Blakley's return sparks Larkin

After sitting out the early portion of the season while recovering from a summer injury, Larkin junior guard Jakob Blakley made a triumphant return to the basketball court during last month's Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs.

Blakley, who was a sophomore starter on the Royals' Class 4A sectional championship team a year ago, was expected to shoulder a lot of the scoring load for the Royals this season.

Unfortunately, the summer injury kept Blakley from Larkin's lineup for the first 10 games, and at one point, the hope was for him to return this month.

"We always knew that he could be back by late December but definitely didn't want to put that type of date on him in terms of pressure of coming back," said Larkin coach Deryn Carter.

Blakley made his season debut during the Royals' 79-71 victory over Elk Grove on Dec. 27 at Jacobs. The 6-foot guard scored 13 of his 25 points in the opening quarter, connecting on three 3-pointers, during Larkin's lone win in 4 tries at Jacobs.

Two days later, Blakley returned and scored 23 points, 14 of them coming in the fourth quarter, during the Royals' 57-49 loss to Prairie Ridge.

"I am not sure if he is ahead of schedule as much as it is just a testament to his work ethic and support system," said Carter. "Yes, he played well - still probably not completely back yet, but even in those games he has shown glimpses of how special he can be."

As expected, Blakley did not play in the other 2 tournament games.

"It wasn't because of any setbacks or anything - more just because of caution and not wanting that much stress on his legs," said Carter.

Last Friday, Blakley poured in a game-high 25 points, including 17 in the second quarter, during Larkin's 69-60 victory over Upstate Eight Conference front-runner Bartlett (13-4, 6-1).

Blakley figures to suit up Friday night when the Royals (6-10, 4-4) host cross-town rival Elgin.

"I'm not sure of the plan going forward," said Carter. "If it were up to him, he would play all four games (in 6 days). However, we will play it by ear. I would be surprised if we played him in all four games."

Marmion (12-5) has been without the services of senior guard Jabe Haith the past few weeks due to a sprained ankle.

However, that has opened the door for the emergence of 6-4 senior forward Henry Dalmann, who scored a game-high 18 points in the Cadets' 65-63 victory over St. Charles East last Friday.

"I give Henry a lot of credit," said Cadets coach Joe Piekarz. "With Jabe being out, he has just come in and completely taken advantage of the opportunity. He has waited his turn and once Jabe comes back, he'll still get added minutes.

"Jabe should be back soon - I'd say in the next week or two."

During holiday break, Marmion turned in a strong second-place finish at the 59th annual Plano Christmas Classic. The Cadets downed Morris, Ottawa, and Kaneland before dropping a 58-41 title decision to Burlington Central.

In addition to last Saturday's game against St. Francis (Marmion lost 53-49), the holiday tourney gave the Cadets a chance to see some teams they will likely meet again come postseason time.

Marmion is in the Burlington Central Class 3A Sub-Sectional along with Cary-Grove, Kaneland, Sycamore, Wauconda, St. Francis, IMSA, Plano, and the host Rockets.

"I think we learned that we're a good basketball team, and that there are other really good basketball teams," Piekarz said of the Plano tourney experience. "When we start getting into postseason play, it's going to be a lot of fun."

St. Charles East (8-8, 3-4) experienced an up and down weekend, edging Batavia 49-48 a day after losing to Marmion.

Jack Borri led the Saints with 15 points (all on 3-pointers), while Steven Call added 11 points and 5 rebounds, and Eddie Herrera had 9 points against Batavia.

"We're not going to scare anyone no matter how good we're playing," Saints coach Patrick Woods said after the Marmion loss. "We've got to do it with execution, focus and details."

Bartlett (13-4) and South Elgin (9-8) are tied with Fenton atop the Upstate Eight with 6-1 records heading this week's action. Junior guard Kelton McEwen scored 83 points in 4 tourney games at Jacobs, including a 31-point effort in the Hawks' 90-74 win over Rockford Jefferson, while junior Nathan Scearce had a team-high 17 points in a 63-61 win over Prairie Ridge. Bartlett finished 3-1.

Meanwhile, Elias Cole Williams scored 22 points in South Elgin's 55-52 win over Grant, while Sean Harvey had 17 points in a 71-56 win over Marian Central. The Storm finished 2-2.

Aurora Christian (13-4) recently split 4 games at the State Farm Classic.

Cam Morel scored 16 points in the Eagles' 43-29 win over Providence-St. Mel, while Jalen Carter had 8 points in a 39-34 win over Tri-Valley.

Freshman Marshawn Cocroft scored a team-high 15 points in a 50-43 loss to Rock Falls.

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