By Erik Jacobsen
Larkin showed visiting St. Charles East no mercy Thursday night.
The Saints are still trying to find their way after losing star Kendall Stephens for the season to a shoulder injury, but there was no uplifting result in the cards against the Royals, who cruised to their 10th win in a row with a 67-53 Upstate Eight River victory.
No. 20 Larkin (15-2, 5-1) scored the first 10 points of the game and then buried its guest with a barrage of easy baskets in the second half. Senior Quantice Hunter tallied 21 points and three steals to lead the way for the Royals, who remain tied with Geneva atop the UEC River standings.
We just wanted to come out firing and come out playing hard even though they didnt have their star player Kendall, Hunter said. We felt like this was a big game for us with a conference-championship atmosphere.
St. Charles East (10-6, 3-2) was hoping to avenge a defeat against Larkin in late November, but instead it left with back-to-back losses for the first time this season after dropping a nonconference game at Glenbard West on Tuesday.
The Saints missed their first nine shots and committed 11 turnovers in the first half. Following the 10-0 start, St. Charles East never came closer than five the rest of the way and saw its deficit balloon to 65-42 when Larkin scored eight unanswered points in the span of 48 seconds in the fourth quarter.
(Larkin is) 15-2 because they are really good, St. Charles East coach Patrick Woods said. Theyre quick, they take care of the ball, they play hard, they get to the basket incredibly well, they get a lot of high-percentage shots and they play really hard defense.
The Royals made a point of getting the ball inside and as a result made 27-of-56 shots (48.2 percent). Meanwhile, the Saints consistently settled for looks from the perimeter and finished 6-for-27 from three-point range.
Junior point guard Dom Adduci had 17 points to lead St. Charles East. Sophomore guard Cole Gentry added 11 points.
Were in a regrouping stage in our season after losing a potential All-American player, Woods said of his teams new direction after losing Stephens. Were trying to find ourselves right now, and unfortunately were finding ourselves in the toughest week of the season.
Larkin got contributions from up and down its lineup as usual as Quentin Ruff joined Hunter in double figures with 14 points.
Kendale McCullum filled up the stat sheet with nine points, five assists and three steals, and junior forwards Brayden Royse (eight points, seven rebounds) and Drew Jones (eight points, six rebounds) enjoyed productive games inside.
You dont get to 10 in a row unless you get them one at a time, Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. One day at a time theyve to become better, so well continue to do that.