Boys basketball: Balanced Larkin captures regional title
By Erik Jacobsen firstname.lastname@example.org March 1, 2013 10:30PM
Larkin players celebrate after defeating St. Charles North in the championship game of the Class 4A South Elgin Regional on Friday. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 2, 2013 4:34PM
St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin put it best when he said Larkin came at his team in waves Friday night.
The top-seeded Royals had too much quickness, too much poise and too much overall talent as they plowed past the third-seeded North Stars 75-64 in the championship game of the Class 4A South Elgin Regional.
Senior guard Quentin Ruff finished with 24 points to lead four Larkin players in double figures as the Royals picked up their first regional title since 2006. They advance to play Rockford Jefferson on Tuesday at the DeKalb Sectional.
“When we have four or five guys scoring double-digit points it’s very tough to beat us,” Larkin junior Kendale McCullum said. “We’re not done yet. We feel like we still have a lot to pick up.”
Larkin (23-5) made only 4-of-19 shots in the first quarter while falling behind 18-11, but it connected on 22-of-33 shots the rest of the way to knock off St. Charles North (18-11) for the third time this season.
The Royals led 30-28 at halftime and took control with an 11-0 in the third quarter that made the score 47-35. St. Charles North’s Quinten Payne answered with four straight points, including two on a driving dunk down the lane with 2:37 left in the third, but the Loyola-bound star picked up his fourth foul eight seconds later and the North Stars never came closer than eight down the rest of the way.
“We noticed we weren’t playing our game in the first half,” Ruff said. “Coming out in the second half we knew if we played our game, good things would happen for us.”
Payne finished with a game-high 28 points, six rebounds and three assists to cap his stellar three-year varsity career at St. Charles North, but the North Stars couldn’t find consistent scoring from anyone else as Tony Neari was the only other player in double figures with 10 points.
“Larkin is a better basketball team,” Poulin said. “They beat (us) three times. You’ve got to take your hat off and say you wish them the best moving forward.”
In contrast to St. Charles North’s lack of offensive balance, Larkin got key contributions from every player in its main rotation. Quantice Hunter totaled 15 points and three steals and McCullum finished with 13 points.
Junior forward Drew Jones, who missed Wednesday’s semifinal win against Elgin with a knee injury, came off the bench and contributed 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. Brayden Royse added eight points and Derrick Streety chipped in with four assists and three steals.
“Jones didn’t even play Wednesday, but he comes back and we don’t win this game without him,” Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. “That’s what’s special about this group. We don’t win this game without any of the guys that are on the roster because they all contribute.”