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Bees show they’re ready for prime time

Zion-BentHigh School varsity basketball player Maurice Young shoots layup during Hinkle Holiday Classic tournament game against ElgLarkHigh School.  |

Zion-Benton High School varsity basketball player Maurice Young shoots a layup during a Hinkle Holiday Classic tournament game against Elgin Larkin High School. | Ruthie Hauge ~ Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 29, 2014 6:05AM

Unbeaten Stevenson made a major statement Friday morning during holiday tournament play, leading New Trier by a ridiculous 31-0 midway through the second quarter of their game at Proviso West.

That was an eye-opener.

On Friday night at Jacobs High School in Algonquin, Zion-Benton’s boys basketball team opened the other eye.

With its 78-72 victory over Elgin Larkin, the Zee-Bees improved to 11-1 overall, and advanced to Saturday’s finals of a tourney they have never won. Carmel (10-2) will provide the opposition.

And, in beating 12-2 Larkin, Zion showed it can play with an incredibly talented team that features superior guard play and has a star in the backcourt.

In other words, Larkin is Stevenson Jr.

Kendale McCullum poured in 31 points to lead Larkin, but the Zee-Bees got their own amazing performance from all-stater Milik Yarbrough.

The senior had 23 of his 32 points in the second half — a stretch in which he was 7-of-8 from the field and 8-of-8 from the foul line.

And Milik’s back was covered by The Admiral (17 points for Admiral Schofield), Trenton Curry (7 points, 5 rebounds) and Jerome Davis (12 points, 12 boards).

Zion took its first lead of the game at 22-21 on a Yarbrough tip with 3:52 left in the second quarter. The Bees led the rest of the way.

The largest lead was 45-30 in the third quarter, and the closest Larkin got was 52-51 with 6:47 left.

The Royals hung close for the rest of the contest, and the Zee-Bees led just 70-68 with 1:17 to play after McCullum drove and scored.

Yarbrough drove the lane and scored with 1:11 to play to put the Zee-Bees back up 72-68. Davis pulled in the rebound after Larkin missed at the other end and Yarbrough’s dunk with 58 seconds to play put Zion up 74-68.

Christian Negron scored in the paint with 48 seconds left to cut the Zee-Bee lead to four. Following a Zee-Bee timeout, ,Yarbrough was fouled and hit two free throws with 26.5 seconds left to extend the lead to 76-70. Brayden Royse airballed a three at the other end for Larkin, but the Royals rebounded and were able to get a putback by Negron with 12.1 seconds to play to make it 76-72.

Following a Larkin timeout the Zee-Bees were able to break the Royals’ press and The Admiral had an open layup with four seconds left.

“The energy we played with in the second quarter and our ability to stay poised when Larkin was playing really well to start the game was huge,” said The Admiral. “I felt we played a little bit harder than them, and maybe wanted it a little more.

“We know if we see each other later on in the season ,it will be another good game, but if we keep improving every week, we’ll be fine. Our main goal is just to keep winning and get down state.”

For his part, Yarbrough knows the Bees just beat a really good team.

“We just wanted to come out and play our game. They have two guards that are probably one of the best backcourts in the state,” he said. “We wanted to come out, rebound, get the ball up the court, and do what we needed to do to get the win.”

By the way, if you’re looking ahead, it’s Friday, Jan. 10:

Stevenson at Zion-Benton.

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