By Erik Jacobsen
Not much separates Elgin and Larkin in terms of talent, but experience clearly won out over youthful exuberance Friday night.The upstart Royals have closed the gap with their crosstown rival, but the Maroons left no doubt theyre still the best team in town by pulling away for a 64-51 Upstate Eight River victory in front of a packed house at Larkin.Elgin senior Kory Brown piled up 21 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. The three-year varsity starter saved his best work for the third quarter when he scored 12 of his points and grabbed five rebounds.The Maroons (19-3, 7-3) also got a major boost from another three-year varsity starter as senior Dennis Moore returned from a broken right hand that kept him out the past seven games. Moore finished with 14 points and helped shore up Elgins perimeter defense against Larkins big group of talented young guards.This was a great atmosphere and the best game of the season, so Im really happy I could come back for it, Moore said. Im probably 80 percent right now, and I should be 100 percent by next week, which was the original date I was going to come back. But I called the doctor and he cleared me for today, and I was really happy about that.The games turning point came with 2:18 remaining and the Maroons clinging to a 53-47 lead. Following a scrum under the basket, Larkin coach Deryn Carter was charged with a technical foul after making a demonstrative foot stomp along the sideline.Instead of the Royals having the ball under on the baseline, Brown went the other way and sank both technical free throws. Elgin then got the ball out of bounds, and moments later Arie Williams split a pair of free throws as the Maroons were on their way to an 11-4 run to close the game.I helped (Elgin) out with a technical that was at a crucial point in the game, Carter said. I apologized to my team. We could have made some plays before that to maybe change the game, but we had the ball down six, I thought we had some momentum and I probably killed it.Larkin (14-9, 4-5) briefly held the lead in the second quarter, but Brown scored with 14 seconds in the half left to give Elgin a 26-24 lead at the break it wouldnt relinquish. The basket marked the first field goal of the game for Brown, who was serenaded with chants of overrated from Larkins cheering section in the first half before getting an earful from assistant coach Jeff Howard in the locker room.The reigning UEC River Player of the Year came out with a vengeance in the third quarter, scoring 10 straight points for the Maroons during one stretch. He also had a pair of assists during the quarter as Elgin pushed its lead to 47-38 going into the fourth.(Howard) told me to be the best player on the court in the second half, Brown said. I did exactly what told me to do. I stepped my game up and was the best player on the floor.Added Carter: You would have thought we didnt know who (Brown) was (in the third quarter). He got one (basket) I remember where he scored off four of our guys. Hes the best player in our league and he showed it tonight.Quentin Ruff and Derrick Streety led the Royals with 11 points apiece. Antonio Pipes added eight points and 10 rebounds and freshman Daniel McFadden had seven points.Williams contributed 13 points for the Maroons, won their fifth in a row in the series and pushed their all-time lead against Larkin to 79-40. Devin Gilliam chipped in with seven points and eight rebounds off the bench.
By Erik Jacobsen