By Bob Balgemann


Harlem’s boys swimming and diving was on a roll to conclude the 2021 regular season with three consecutive victories. The Huskies defeated Guilford and Boylan Catholic in a triangular meet to finish 6-2 in NIC-10 competition. Then they toppled Rockford Christian, 124-61, in non-conference action, to end at 8-2 overall.

They also recorded a new school record along the way. That was in the 50-yard freestyle and set by sophomore Jeremy Mueller, against Rockford Christian, with a time of 22.33 seconds. Graduate Jim Schuman originally established the standard of 22.40 seconds in 2016. 

Meanwhile, the week in boys and girls produced mixed results as the Huskies won two out of three while the Lady Huskies dropped two of three.

In swimming, the Huskies won 11 gold medals in the meet against Boylan and Guilford.

Mueller and senior Kevin McMillan each won four events and in doing so, scored 24 points apiece for their team.

Mueller took the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:47.88; the 100-yard butterfly, in 53.81 seconds; 100-yard freestyle, at 50.03 seconds; and the 50-yard butterfly, in 24.82 seconds.

McMillan won the 50-yard backstroke, with a time of 27.52 seconds;  the 200-yard individual medley (IM), in 2:18.33; the 500-yard freestyle, at 5:35.36; and the 100-yard backstroke, in 1:01.19.

Also winning their events were senior Brandon Ngo, in both the 50-yard breaststroke, in 32.19 seconds, and 100-yard breastroke, at 1:12.19; and senior Eli Barefield, the 50-yard freestyle, clocked at 24.42 seconds.

Three silver medals went to Barefield, for winning second place in the 100-yard free (53.11 seconds); 100-yard breaststroke (1:14.96) and diving (133.35 points); Ngo went silver in the 100-yard IM (1:05.62); and junior Wyatt Berry took silver in the 50-yard breaststroke (36.01 seconds).

Sophomore Noah Hernandez won bronze for taking third place in the 500-yard free, clocked at 5:44.99, as did sophomore Arron Richardson in both the 100-yard IM, in 1:08.45, and the 50-yard butterfly, at 29.55 seconds, and junior Justyn Cimino in diving, with 121.70 points

Others securing places for the Huskies were Cimino, fourth in the 50-yard back; Richardson, fourth in the 200-yard free; Berry, fifth in both the 200 IM and 100-yard IM and sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke; Richardson, fifth in the 50-yard free and Hernandez, fifth in the 100-yard back. In addition, Hernandez was sixth in the 50-yard back along with sophomore John Cox, in both the 200-yard free and 100-yard back; sophomore Xzavier Haight, in both the 100-yard free 50-yard butterfly; and freshman Evan McDonald in the 500-yard free.

Rockford Christian

Against the Rockford Christian Royal Lions, Harlem won 12 of the 13 events and was led by Barefield, Haight, Cimino, Mueller, McMillan and Ngo, who divided the 12 gold medals among them.

Mueller won gold for his first-place efforts in the 50-yard backstroke, 50-yard freestyle (with his record-setting time), 100-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke. McMillan won the 200-yard freestyle and 50-yard butterfly. Barefield was first in the 200-yard IM and the 50-yard breaststroke; Ngo won the 500-yard freestyle; Haight took the 100-yard backstroke; and Cimino scored a personal best 236.70 points to win in diving.

McMillan went silver for his second-place finish in both the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard IM; Berry, in the 50-yard breaststroke and 100-yard freestyle; Haight, in the 100-yard butterfly; Cox, in the 100-yard backstroke; Ngo, in the 100-yard butterfly; and Barefield, in the 50-yard butterfly.

Harlem had four bronze winners for claiming third-place finishes in their events. They were Ngo in the 50-yard breaststroke; Cox in both the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly; and Barefield in the 100-yard IM.    


Harlem’s boys remained in the thick of the Top 5 conference battle with a 9-3 record, right behind first-place Rockford East (11-1) and runner-up Jefferson (10-2). They won a big one last week, jarring Jefferson, 53-47, behind a staunch defensive effort that limited the J-Hawks to just 12 points in the first half.

First off they edged Belvidere North, 42-35, thanks to more sound defense and continued accuracy from the field, hitting 12-of-18 two point attempts for 66 percent. They also maintained their sharp-shooting at the free throw line, going 6-of-8, and put the game away by limiting the Blue Thunder to just five fourth-quarter points.

DeAndre Young netted 14 points on 5-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-8 from beyond the 3-point arc. Lathan Lewis also had 14 points, while Dominic Dawsey added six and Alex Wilson, four.

The middle of three games was a disappointment in the 61-52 loss at home to Boylan Catholic, which now is 7-3 in the conference. The Titans rode a 17-7 second quarter advantage that Harlem wasn’t able to overcome.

Lewis hit 22 points for the night on 8-of-13 shooting and 6-of-7 at the free throw line. Dawsey chipped in 16 while Trent Tucker scored seven points.

But the Huskies recovered on March 9 with another display of defensive prowess that limited Jefferson to 40 percent shooting in a 53-47 setback. Harlem forced 20 turnovers, helped by 10 steals and nine pass deflections.

Lewis had a hot hand that night, shooting 8-of-13 from the field and converting 6-of-7 free throws while netting 22 points. Dawsey was 4-of-4 at the charity stripe to go with 8-of-17 overall shooting and 16 points. Tucker added seven.

The Lady Huskies opened with a defensive stand of their own as they finished strong to defeat Belvidere North, 51-37. They put away a close game by commanding the fourth quarter, 17-10.

Ali MacGregor had a double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds, to go with three steals, while sparking the win. Taylor Goodwin added nine points, hitting 6-of-7 free throws during the decisive fourth period, and took care of the ball against North’s press. Despite being one of the smallest players on the floor, she managed to pull down five rebounds.

A big difference maker in the win, head coach Beth Meyer said, was Mya Davidson’s strong offensive play. She scored off a variety of moves and shot 8-of-11 for the night, for 72 percent, while putting 17 points on the board.

Harlem entered the week at 8-2 and in first place on its division. But when the week ended the Lady Huskies were 8-4, having lost to Boylan Catholic, 45-40, and Jefferson, 59-46.

The game with the Lady Titans was tied, 28-28 at halftime, when the visitors upped the defensive pressure in the second half to win by five.

“Credit Boylan, they made good adjustments and overworked the Huskies today,” coach Meyer said afterward.

Davidson led Harlem in scoring with 19 points, to go with five rebounds and five blocks.

Jefferson improved to 7-5 with the March 9 victory to remain close behind fourth-place Harlem. Hononegah continues to lead the conference with a 10-1 record; Guilford is next in line at 10-3, followed by Auburn at 8-3.

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