By Bob Balgemann

    This year’s holiday break is over and that means the second half of the 2021-22 winter sports season is under way at Harlem.

The Lady Huskies (8-5) came out of the Boylan Reindeer Games invitational, played Dec. 28-30, by winning two games in pool play.

They opened by capturing their fourth consecutive game with a 49-17 runaway against Dakota (4-9), racing to a 22-9 lead at halftime, and increasing the difference to 43-14 in the final period.

Their best output of the day, in an otherwise defensive contest, was a 13-point second quarter with contributions from Mya Davidson, four points; Julie Bailey, four points; Myah Udell, three points; and Taelor Paulsen, two points. Davidson and Grace Vyborny led the scoring with 13 points apiece, while Bailey added 12.

NIC-10 opponent Belvidere North was their second game at Boylan and much more of a challenge, as Harlem edged the Lady Blue Thunder, 49-44, to make it five in a row.

The Lady Huskies were up, 27-18 at halftime, then withstood a North comeback as it led second-half scoring, 26-22.

Davidson had a huge first half, scoring 15 of her 21 points, with the other offense coming from Bailey, Udell, Vyborny and Paige Stovall. For the game, Stovall added eight points; seven came from Udell. Team-wise, the Lady Huskies had a perfect night at the free-throw line, going 10-for-10. Davidson and Udell each went 4-for-4 from the line.

Ironically, Harlem and North will play again Friday night on the North floor, with the Lady Blue Thunder owning a 3-2 conference record. The Lady Huskies so far are 4-3 in the NIC-10.

Next up for Harlem will be a huge test at Hononegah on Tuesday. As 2021 drew to a close, the Lady Indians were  alone atop the conference with a perfect 6-0 record, and they were 12-2 overall.

Tough start

The Huskies had a tough time to begin with, down at Bloomington-Normal, where they once again competed in the large school division of the State Farm Classic.

Harlem came in with a 4-7 overall record and the No. 13 seed among 16 schools in this bracket. Its first-round opponent was the fourth seed, unbeaten Wheaton-Warrenville South, and the result was a 77-44 setback.

It was close after the first quarter, with the Tigers (12-0) holding a 21-16 edge. But they took command in the second period, outscoring the Huskies, 23-10, for a 44-26 advantage at halftime.

Dane Dailing led Harlem in scoring with 13 points, hitting three 3s along the way. DeAndre Young chipped in nine with seven coming from Lathan Lewis and five from Riley Lundgren. The Huskies had a tough time at the free-throw line, hitting 6-of-15 attempts.

In the consolation bracket, Harlem took on Mahomet-Seymour (4-7) and fell, 60-34.

Caden Cline had his season’s best 12 points for the day, including two 3s and going 2-for-3 from the free-throw line. Dailing added 10 and Young chipped in five. The Huskies shot a much improved 8-of-11 from the free-throw line.

But things improved greatly in their third game, when the Huskies routed North Chicago, 70-44, in their second meeting of the season. Earlier, at the RPS 205 Tip-Off Classic in Rockford, they drilled the Warhawks, 66-43.

On Dec. 28, Harlem sank 10 3-point baskets, three each by Cline and Young, while opening up a 10-point halftime lead by outsourcing winless North Chicago, 20-7, in the decisive third quarter.

Young was the Huskies’ offensive leader with 18 points followed by Alex Wilson with 16 and Cline with 10. All 11 players who logged floor time scored at least two points, including Lewis, Brandon Winters, Nick Sheldon, Dailing, Nate Dunbar, Hayden Henderson, Lundgren and Tanner Sherbon.

In the battle for fifth place out of the consolation bracket on Dec. 29, Harlem was bested by Normal University, 70-54.  Normal (6-8) was only up by 29-27 at halftime, but took a decisive 21-12 third period on the way to victory.

After hitting 10 3s in the previous game, the Huskies nailed 11 against Normal led by Cline with four, Young with three and Wilson with two. They also were the point leaders with 16, 15 and 10 respectively, followed by Dailing (8) and Lewis (5).

Harlem (5-10, 2-4) will be back on the NIC-10 trail Friday night at Belvidere North (7-6, 3-3) and then again, on Tuesday, at Boylan Catholic (9-2, 4-1).

No wrestling

On Dec. 29, Harlem was scheduled to have an eight-team wrestling tournament in its gymnasium. The entry field consisted of Auburn, Rockford East, Maple Park Kaneland, Mundelein, Niles West, Crystal Lake Prairie Ridge and Zion-Benton.

But Harlem Athletic Director Rebecca Hoffmann Karr announced that the tournament had been cancelled, due to several teams having COVID-19 protocols. “We want to keep all of our kids safe,” she said.

As the new year  begins, the Huskies will be returning to tournaments at Leyden and

Batavia high schools.

There also will be competition against other NIC-10 teams before the 3A state tournament series starts Feb. 5, with 16 regional events. First, second and third-place winners will advance to one of four sectional sites, scheduled Feb. 11-12. Then the first through fourth place winners will move on to the state finals, planned Feb. 17-19 at the State Farm Center on the campus of the University of Illinois.

There are a total of 413 teams in the boys tournament this year, with 127 of them joining Harlem in Class 3A. There also will be a girls wrestling tournament, with 180 teams entered in all. Harlem does not have a girls team.


The final three games of the boys’ NIC-10 season are under way with the two unbeaten Harlem teams having gone up against Belvidere North earlier this week. On Friday, the Huskies will entertain Belvidere at Forest Hills Lanes; the season will end next Tuesday on the road at Auburn.

There will be 227 single-class entries in this year’s state tournament, which begins with 16 regionals on Jan. 15. The top four teams in each regional will advance to four sectionals on Jan. 22, with the first through sixth-place teams going to state, which is Jan. 28-29 and back at St. Clair Bowl in downstate O’Fallon.

The Lady Huskies will join the boys team against Belvidere and Auburn. With their season two games behind the boys, they then will have two more conference matches coming up: Jan. 13 at Hononegah and at home Jan. 18 against Jefferson. Both the varsity and junior varsity teams came undefeated into 2022 and were positioned to repeat as conference champions.

The girls state tournament is scheduled to start with regional action on Jan. 22.

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