By Bob Balgemann


With this year’s state regional bowling tournament on the verge of beginning, Harlem’s boys varsity and junior varsity teams won NIC-10 championships with victories over Rockford Auburn.

For the varsity, it was the second title in three years; the JVs made it three in a row.

Meanwhile, the Huskies bounced back in basketball with a pulsating 57-50 overtime win at Belvidere North. But the Lady Huskies were edged by conference leading Hononegah, 53-48, also in overtime.

In a week of matches with challengers to this year’s conference bowling title, Harlem varsity first improved to 8-0 by defeating Belvidere, 3,931 to 3,546. In guaranteeing themselves at least a tie for the title, the Huskies were sparked by Braden Schuld’s personal best 299 for the season. They built a 387-pin lead while winning the first two games, so the Bucs winning game No. 3, by two pins, didn’t make any difference.

Devin Titus recorded his personal best 751 series and now ranks second among NIC-10 bowlers, individually. Schuld chipped in a 724; Eric Roberts, a 687; Ryen Apgar, a 651; Jerry Simmons, a 574; and Ben Smith, a 544.

The JVs continued selecting their six match participants from among a team of 12 and this time, they took all three games from Belvidere, 3,566 to 3,260. Justin Henrey led the way with a season’s best 703 series. Brayland Carpenter chipped in his personal best series, a 655, while Dake Titus had a 643. Bradon Smith, making his first appearance with the JVs, contributed a 583; Andrew Bell, a 481; Colton Kilbreath, two games totaling 345 pins; and Zander Carpenter, a single game of 145.

Conference-wide among individuals, Henrey and Titus are tied for second place, each with a 703 series; and Bell is fourth with his 681. Henrey is second with a high single game of 266, and Brayland Carpenter is third with a 265.

Others who have shared in the successful JV competition this season are Zander Carpenter, Jeremy Martinez, Ryan Apger, who was elevated to the varsity early in the season; Simon Axe, Hayden Halfacre, Trevor Olson and Caeleb Johnson.

Girls varsity

With three games left to play, Harlem (6-0) and Hononegah (6-0) are tied for first place, with Auburn (5-1) in third.

Most recently, Harlem knocked off Belvidere by more than 1,000 pins, 3,685 to 2,508. That series pin total, plus a single game of 1,288, are new first-place holders among team efforts to date.

Carolyn Richards sparked the victory with a personal best series of 710, which now ranks second among NIC-10 individuals. Paige Carpenter chipped in a season’s best 679 series, placing her third in the conference. Hailee Kerr’s 675 is fourth. Other contributors were Kerr with a 621 series; Stephanie Windsor, a 573; Miranda Klenz, a 570; and Riley Gilbert, a 532.

NIC-10 JV records have not been updated since the first game.

Boys basketball

The varsity win over Belvidere North started off in an unusual way.

Both employed sometimes smothering full-court presses, then backing into man-to-man defenses, which generated turnovers and low-percentage shots. The result: a 3-2 score, in favor of the Blue Thunder, halfway through the first quarter.

North increased its lead to 7-2 before Harlem came back to within 7-6 on a reverse layup and a drive along the baseline, both by Lathan Lewis, the latter with 57 seconds left in the period. The Blue Thunder scored the final points of the quarter to lead, 9-6.

It was 14-7, North, two minutes into the second period when Alex Wilson knocked down a three to make it 14-10. The Huskies continued their slow comeback and very briefly got their heads above water, leading 17-16 on a couple of free throws by Lewis. He had been fouled after grabbing a defensive rebound, at the 2:16 mark.

The Thunder went on a mini 6-0 run to close out the period, however, and led, 22-17, at halftime.

North led for the entire third quarter, but never by more than four points.

Harlem continued to hang around and tied it at 40-40 on Dane Dailing’s baseline drive and Wilson’s layup, following a North turnover, the latter with 4:20 left in the game. A missed free throw and defensive rebound put the ball in Caden Cline’s hands, and he hit a 3 from the right corner for the Huskies’ second lead of the game, 43-40. But North countered almost immediately and it was tied again. Then Harlem came right back with Dailing’s 3, from the left corner, providing a 46-43 lead.

It was 48-45, Harlem, when the Blue Thunder tied it on a 3, from beyond the top of the free-throw circle, with 1:08 to go. They got the ball back after a Harlem miss and called timeout with 13.4 seconds remaining. Before the ball could be put in play, the Huskies called timeout. Bottom line was North finally missing a 3 from the right corner with 2.3 seconds to go, and overtime was on tap for that night.

Harlem started by turning the ball over and North followed with a short jump shot to lead, 50-48. Harlem committed another turnover, but on this possession, the Blue Thunder failed to capitalize.

It didn’t take long for the Huskies to seize the momentum, as they went on a 9-0 run for the 57-50 win.

Lewis started it by netting a short jump shot to create a 50-50 tie at the 2:30 mark. North committed a turnover. Harlem slow things down until Dailing worked for an open shot and nailed a 3 for a 53-50 lead. North missed a 3. After securing the rebound, the Huskies returned to slow motion and before long, Cline was fouled, sending him to the free-throw line. He hit 1-of-2 attempts and it was 54-50.

North missed another shot, Harlem got the defensive rebound and it was deja vu all over again. This time Wilson was fouled, he made both free throws to make it 56-50 with 20 seconds left to play.

Another Blue Thunder miss, another Harlem rebound and another foul, this one sending DeAndre Young to the line, where he hit 1-of-2 free throws for the 57-50 lead with 10.7 seconds remaining.

The win was the sixth for the Huskies, who improved to 3-5 in NIC-10 play. North slipped to 8-9 overall and 3-4 in the conference.

On Jan. 12 head coach Mike Winters and one of his players, Dane Dailing, returned to nearby Boylan Catholic where each was disappointed with a 61-59 loss on a drive to the basket by J’mar Johnson with :06 left to play.

Winters coached there from 2011-12 to 2015-16, where his teams compiled a 108-40 record with two sectional championships. Dailing was a student there, having transferred to Harlem last fall. Against his former teammates he scored 12 points, hitting all four of his 3-point attempts. Two of the scores were especially big, coming late in the game and each one pulling the Huskies into a tie with the Titans.

Harlem (6-12, 3-6) led early and was up 24-17 in the second quarter when Boylan (13-4, 6-2) rallied to tie the game at halftime, 34-34.

The rest of the game was close, with neither team able to muster more than a six-point lead. The only six-point advantage was held by Boylan, 50-44, with 6:32 left to play. But Lewis banked in a slot to make it a 50-46 and Young, after a missed Titan shot, nailed a 3 to narrow the deficit to 50-49.

It was that kind of finish with Harlem having pulled into a 59-59 tie with 00:56 left in the game. The Titans got the ball back, played for the last shot and hit it.

Offensively for the Huskies Lathan Lewis scored 17 points, Alex Wilson, 13, Dailing, 12, DeAndre Young, 11, and Caden Cline and Hayden Henderson, 3 each.

Girls basketball

The following night, overtime was in the cards once again. This time it was for the Lady Huskies, who came within an eyelash of upsetting NIC-10 leading Hononegah. The Lady Indians entered the game at 7-0 in the league and 17-3 overall.

It was a game of scoring surges to begin with as Harlem (9-7, 4-4) jumped off to a 16-3 lead on baskets, under varying conditions, from Taelor Paulsen, Julie Bailey, Paige Stovall and Mya Davidson. But the Lady Indians started their comeback, with an eventual 10-0 run, late in the first quarter and continuing into the top of the second period.

A 3 by Bailey slowed the rally but Hononegah eventually took a 22-20 lead on a 3 following a missed Harlem shot. It was 25-22, Lady Indians, when Myah Udell narrowly missed a 3 at the buzzer.

Three-point baskets ultimately played a major role in the outcome of this game as Hononegah, misfiring on many of its first-half attempts, caught fire in the second half and wound up canning 12 of its tries for the night. Harlem wound up with eight 3s, five by Bailey including two in overtime.

The game was a back-and-fourth kind of thing the rest of the way, tied 34-34 after three quarters and 42-42 at the end of regulation. Harlem tied it at 42 on Davidson’s inside shot, following a Lady Indian turnover and off a feed from Udell moments before the final buzzer.

Hononegah set the tone for OT by hitting consecutive 3s to start it to lead by six. Bailey netted one of her two 3s during that time to narrow the deficit to 48-45. After several exchanges of possession, the Lady Indians made it 50-45 on a steal and ensuing layup. Two free throws put them up even further, at 52-45, when Bailey cashed in another 3, but Harlem could get no closer than that.

Bailey led the Lady Huskies in scoring with 15 points followed by Davidson with 13, Grace Vyborny with nine, Udell with six and Stovall with five.

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