By Bob Balgemann

It took a little longer than called for in the schedule of matches, but Harlem wound up repeating as NIC-10 champion of girls bowling for 2021-22.

With four matches left to play, Harlem, Hononegah and Auburn were tied for first place with 5-0 records. Hononegah rolled past Auburn in the sixth game that signaled the beginning of the Lady Knights’ fall from contention.

Still, the Harlem-Auburn meeting in the sixth match of the season had meaning. They were scheduled to play Jan. 11, but it had to be postponed. That temporarily gave each team one-half of a win, pushing Hononegah into first place by half-a-game, with a 7-0 record.

Next up was the much-anticipated match between the Lady Huskies and Lady Indians, with Harlem taking all three games and prevailing by 309 pins, 3,452 to 3,143. That left the Lady Huskies unbeaten and now in control of their own destiny.

Harlem then faced Jefferson at home in the final regular season match for both teams. The Lady Huskies won and owned a 7 ½-0 ½ record, percentage points in front of Hononegah, whose season was over with an 8-1 record.

The make-up match with Auburn was next, on Jan. 20, and Harlem came away with the win. That meant keeping the NIC-10 trophy for at least another year in the case between the gymnasium and athletic department office at the high school.

Meanwhile, other winter sports teams at Harlem were busy in the past week either with their conference seasons wrapping up, or the start of the assorted Illinois HIgh School Association postseason tournaments.


Harlem’s frosh/soph wrestling team won the NIC-10 championship, scoring 132.5 points to edge runner-up Hononegah, which totaled 123 points even.

The Huskies had three individual champions: Koletyn Zanoni (13-7) at 113 pounds; Ethan Hagerman (7-5) at 126 pounds and Andrew Redmon (7-4) at 182 pounds.

Zanoni went 3-0 in the tournament, defeating Joseph Young of Hononegah, 6-4, in the title match. Hagerman won twice, including the championship bout by pinning Adam McDaniel of Freeport in 4:57. And Redmon won all three of his matches, including a pin in 1:07 over Eh Kaw of Rockford East, in the finals for their weight class title.

There were six second-place finishes, registered by Justin Lewis (12-8) at 106 pounds; Preston Fadness (6-5) at 132 pounds; Gavin Warner (6-4) at 138 pounds; Michael Halvax (8-4) at 160 pounds; Cully Nelson (9-3) at 170 pounds; and Mason Williams (8-6) at 220 pounds.

Other place winners who scored team points for Harlem were Jason Taylor (10-7), third at 145 pounds; and Dylan Goodall (4-3), fourth at 120 pounds.

Freeport, Rockford East and Auburn were bunched together in third, fourth and fifth places, scoring 85, 84 and 82 points respectively.

The NIC-10 varsity tournament will be Saturday at Guilford, starting at 10 a.m.

Boys basketball

Harlem came out of an 0-3 experience at the Jefferson Martin Luther King tournament to entertain Belvidere and sweep the two-game conference series, while picking up its seventh win of the season, 64-26.

The Huskies had different combinations on the floor in all four quarters, starting with Tanner Sherbon, DeAndre Young, Brandon Winters, Alex Wilson and Dane Dailing, who produced a 20-6 lead after the opening period.

Sherbon banked in the game’s first basket during a sluggish few minutes of play that saw Harlem pick it up with a 12-4 run. That surge was fueled by consecutive scores from Wilson, who put back a missed shot on the heels of a steal. Young closed out the quarter with a basket at the buzzer, from near half court.

Hayden Henderson, Nate Dunbar, Ayden Phillips, Nick Sheldon and Riley Lundgren logged most of the primarily defensive second-quarter minutes, which saw the Bucs take the edge, 6-5, but still trail by 25-12 at halftime. Harlem’s points came off two free throws by Phillips, and a 3 from Wilson.

Caden Cline and Layton Lewis were on the floor during the higher-scoring third and fourth quarters, during which Harlem (7-15, 4-6) outscored the visitors, 39-14. Young and Dailing generated 3s in the third; Wilson had a three-point play after being fouled while scoring at the head of a fastbreak, resulting from a missed Belvidere shot.

The Huskies went on a 15-2 run in the fourth period led by Young, Lewis and Sheldon.

Harlem ran into stiff competition at the MLK tournament, losing to Thornton Fractional-South, 69-44; Batavia, 52-46; and Rockford Lutheran, 78-66.

Girls basketball

After splitting four games in the Martin Luther King tournament at Byron, the Lady Huskies returned to NIC-10 action with a 79-36 rout of Freeport.

That outing featured a personal best of seven 3-point baskets from Julie Bailey as she led the victory with 25 points. In all that night, Harlem netted 11 shots from beyond the 3-point arc, the others coming from Myah Udell, Keyara Bailey, Taelor Paulsen and Paige Stovall.

Grace Vyborny chipped in 16 points followed by 13 from Mya Davidson, with additional contributions from Brooke Brien, Alli MacGregor and Alyssa Fulton.

Harlem jumped off to a 22-12 lead in the first quarter as Julie Bailey and Vyborny combined for 15 points. It was 48-26, Harlem, at halftime and 73-32 after three quarters of play.

But on Jan. 21, a short-handed Lady Huskies squad traveled to Belvidere and dropped a 39-31 decision to the Lady Bucs. After that, Harlem was 5-5 in the conference and 12-10 overall, with another road trip, this one to Belvidere North, on tap that weekend.

At Byron, the Lady Huskies opened with a 53-31 victory over Forreston (3-13).

Forreston actually led, 2-0, but saw Mya Donaldson, Julie Bailey, Vyborny, Keyara Bailey and Finley Lafferty spark a comeback that put Harlem in control, 26-12, in the second quarter. It was 39-20 in the fourth period thanks to help from Brien and Paulsen.

Harlem next ran into Galena (17-2), one of the better teams in northern Illinois, and fell, 54-27. Then Peru St. Bede (4-10) provided the opposition, which resulted in the Lady Huskies winning, 61-34.

In its final appearance, Harlem played one of the tournament’s more exciting games that was won by Rosary (14-8) out of Aurora, 56-52, in double overtime.

Julie Bailey’s early 3 helped Harlem take a 6-0 lead. But the Royals recovered quickly and wound up with a 32-20 halftime advantage. Then it was the Lady Huskies turn to come back, controlling the third (17-10) and fourth (7-2) quarters to create a 44-44 tie at the end of regulation. Defense was a Harlem strong suit over the first four periods, featuring steals by Vyborny and blocked shots from Davidson and Paulsen.

The two teams each scored six points in the first overtime, then Rosary won the second extra period, 6-2, to claim the 56-52 victory.


Harlem wrestlers were busy at all levels, with the varsity enjoying its second win in as many years over rival Hononegah, this time by a 39-33 count.

It was a bittersweet victory as senior Marshal Cunz suffered an ankle injury and had to forfeit his 152-pound bout by injury default.

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