By Bob Balgemann

After a year’s absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) boys state bowling tournament is back and will kick off at 16 regional sites on Saturday.

For Harlem, that means a short trip to Park Lanes Bowl in Loves Park for the 11-team Boylan Catholic regional. Teams in first, second and third place, plus 10 individuals not attached to an advancing team, will move on to the sectional, set for Jan. 22, at a location to be determined. The finals will be in downstate O’Fallon on Jan. 28-29.

The Boylan regional entry field consists of Belvidere, Belvidere North, Harvard, Harlem, Auburn, the host Titans, Rockford East, Guilford, Rockford Lutheran, Rockford Christian, Hononegah and South Beloit.

Meanwhile, the return of girls’ basketball to NIC-10 competition didn’t go as planned, with the Jan. 3 game between Harlem (9-6, 4-3) and Boylan Catholic (9-3, 5-1) being postponed. Friday night’s game at Belvidere North (7-7, 3-3) apparently is still on.

The Lady Huskies mostly enjoyed the four times they played the final week in December, at the nearby Boylan Reindeer Games tournament. In fact, they played for a berth in the championship game but lost to McHenry, 44-35. Then they bounced back in the last game to defeat Neuqua Valley, 50-45.

The Huskies were able to play and they dropped a 63-48 decision to Rockford East.

Boys bowling

Looking back in bowling, Harlem’s most recent trip to the state finals came in 2019-20, when it finished in seventh place. Current team members Jerry Simmons, Braden Schuld and Eric Roberts were on that team with Simmons, a freshman at the time, being in the starting lineup. He bowled in 10 of the 12 games, totaling 1,916 pins for an average of 192 per outing. Roberts rolled two games, averaging 183 per contest; Schuld did not participate.

This year, with the NIC-10 championship close to being decided, the Huskies (7-0) are two games from claiming at least a tie for title. Hononegah (6-1) is second, but the Indians lost to Harlem in the season opener. Belvidere (5-2) is third and would have to defeat Harlem go give the Indians a chance.

Roberts, now a senior, has bowled in all 21 games and carries an average of 221 per outing, tied for second best in the conference. He has a high three-game series of 740 pins and a high single game of 279. Schuld, a junior, is averaging 215 per game with a personal best series of 764, tops in the league, and a high single game of 269. Simmons, also a junior, is averaging 214 per game with a high series of 717 and high single game of 267.

The Huskies moved another game closer to the NIC-10 championship in the first match of 2022 by edging previous contender Belvidere North (4-3), in a nail-biter, 3,815 pins to 3,785. Harlem won the first two games, 1,347 to 1,294, and 1,277 to 1,267, respectively, to lead by 63 pins going into the third and final game. North came back to win that outing, 1,224 to 1,191, but wound up losing by 30 pins.

Schuld rolled his season’s best series, a 764, followed by Ryen Apgar with a 708; Roberts, a 622; Simmons, a 603; Devin Titus, a 566; Brayland Carpenter, a 375; and Ben Smith, a 177.

Girls bowling

As the NIC-10 girls bowling season moved into the second half, Harlem, Hononegah and Rockford Auburn continued to be tied for first place with 5-0 records.

The Lady Huskies won their fifth in a row by rolling past Belvidere North, 3,462 to 2,649.

There were some standout individual performances for Harlem, such as a personal best 675 series and 245 high single game from Hailee Kerr, and a 607 series and 233 single game from Miranda Klenz. Others contributing to that win were Paige Carpenter with a 625 series; Stephanie Windsor, a 542; Riley Gilbert, a 508; and Carolyn Richards, a 505.

Harlem continues to occupy several spots among top individual efforts with Richards’ 688 series ranked No. 2 in the conference; Kerr, now third with her new 675; and Carpenter, still fifth with her 663. Carpenter remains fifth among high single games at 246.

Average-wise among all individuals, Carpenter is tied for second place with a 208; Richards is fourth with a 203; and Kerr is tied for fifth with a 201.

Team-wise, Harlem continues to be second with its 1,218 high single game and 3,539 series.


After going 2-0 in pool play at the Reindeer Games, the Lady Huskies took their five-game winning streak into a battle with McHenry (7-7) for a berth in the championship game.

The Lady Warriors plied a methodical offensive attack during the first and second quarters, bypassing 3-point attempts while working for high-percentage shots, to take a 27-11 halftime lead.

But the Lady Huskies came back, more aggressively attacking the basket in the third period and closing with a 6-0 run to make it a 34-24 game going into the final eight minutes of play. Mya Davidson started the late surge by working inside and laying in two; Paige Stovall, back from a recent injury, knocked down a short jump shot and Grace Vyborny scored at the head of a fast break, following a McHenry miss, moments before the quarter’s end.

Stovall opened the final period with a layup off a quick response to another McHenry miss, to close the gap to eight points. But that was as close at Harlem would get as the two teams traded baskets during much of the remaining time, to produce the 44-35 final difference.

Davidson had a busy day at the free-throw line, going a perfect 8-for-8 while leading her team in scoring with 14 points. Vyborny added 12 with Stovall chipping in seven.

Her visits to the free-throw line didn’t decrease gainst Neuqua Valley (8-7), in a game that saw the Lady Huskies rally from a 14-9 first quarter deficit to lead, 22-21, at halftime. Davidson kept Harlem in the game in the first period by scoring seven of its nine points, including a 3 and making two free throws. Julie Bailey and Taelor Paulsen nailed a pair of 3s, while Davidson contributed seven points to fuel the second-period comeback.

In a decisive third quarter, Harlem outscored Neuqua Valley 20-11 to move ahead, 42-32. This time it was Vyborny sparking the offense by hitting five baskets and adding a free throw, to go with two more 3s from Bailey and Paulsen.

It was the Wildcats turn to rally, in the fourth quarter, but they could not come all the way back and wound up on the short end of a 50-45 final score.

Davidson led Harlem’s offense with 21 points while Vyborny kicked in 13, Bailey, 12, and Paulsen, six.

In boys basketball, Rockford East (11-4, 5-2) came to town and rallied from a 19-12 first quarter deficit to score 17 points in each of the second, third and fourth quarters for a 63-48 conference win over Harlem.

The Huskies counted 3-pointers from Caden Cline, DeAndre Young, Alex Wilson and Dane Dailing to mount a 19-12 lead in the first quarter. But the E-Rabs came back to lead, 29-27, at halftime and 46-35 after three quarters on their way to a win.

Wilson led Harlem’s offense with 14 points followed by Dailing with 13, Young with nine and Lathan Lewis with six.

Belvidere North is next on the schedule for the Huskies, on the road Friday night.

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