Larkin’s Jalen Shaw can be a devastating scorer. The 6-10 senior is nearly impossible for a high school player to guard one-on-one, so he’ll be drawing double and triple-teams all season long.
Most young big men get frustrated by all that defensive attention and force bad shots or commit charges. That isn’t the case at all with Shaw, he’s more than happy to kick the ball out to his open teammates.
“It’s very easy for me to accept that,” Shaw said. “I’ll do whatever I have to do to help my team win.”
Shaw did just that on Tuesday in Elgin. He took just four shots, but was still a dominant force in No. 10 Larkin’s 62-45 win against St. Charles East.
Shaw finished with 12 points and 17 rebounds. Senior guard Anthony Lynch added 19 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
Larkin coach Deryn Carter said that Shaw saw the effect Jacobs big man Cameron Krutwig (now starting for Loyola University) had in the Royals’ sectional loss to Jacobs last season.
“He learned what a force you can be even when you are not scoring,” Carter said. “He takes pride in trying to find the open guy. He only turned it over once out of the double-team. The more he sees it the better he is going to get against it. Our guys are starting to realize how advantageous it is to give it to a guy that requires two guys to guard him. You just get so much open space.”
The Royals (6-2, 4-0 Upstate Eight River) are still getting used to dealing with all that open space. They were a brutal 0 for 10 from three-point range in the first half and finished 3 for 17 in the game.
“Sometimes our guys press after they don’t make a couple,” Carter said. “They know they are going to be open and they feel a sense of responsibility to make shots because Jalen is bringing so much attention.”
Larkin never panicked, even when they trailed by 13 points early.
“We have a lot of seniors with a lot of composure, we knew we were going to regroup and be fine,” Shaw said.
The Royals took their first lead late in third quarter and then senior guard Kindrel Morris sealed the win with his spectacular fourth quarter free-throw shooting. He had not scored in the game before draining 15 of 16 free throws.
“Free throw shooting has not been a huge strength of ours,” Carter said. “Sometimes it is just about confidence and getting into a flow and he got into one.”
Shaw is the area’s best rebounder and nearly an automatic scorer when he gets the ball in the post.
“[Shaw] has evolved a lot just since last year, AAU helped him a lot,” Lynch said. “When he gets it down low he can just turn around and score a layup.”
St. Charles East (5-3, 1-2) started fast but Larkin’s bad shooting was contagious. The Fighting Saints, who rely on the three-pointer for the majority of their offense, were 4 for 20 from three-point range.
Star senior Justin Hardy scored 19 points, but got into early foul trouble and sat the entire second quarter.
“St. Charles East is good,” Carter said. “They know what they are doing. This was a huge win for a Tuesday in December. “It’s a different game if [Hardy] doesn’t get in foul trouble.”