For the first time since 1981, the East E-Rabs are the sole champions of the NIC-10 in boys basketball, while on the girls side, the two teams that have held the title for the past five years – Boylan and Hononegah – may end up sharing it this time around.
The East boys entered Friday night’s game with Belvidere with at least a conference co-championship in hand. But after a 77-56 win over the last-place Bucs, the E-Rabs were alone in first at 15-0, four games ahead of second-place Harlem with three to go.
Chris Burnell paced East with 19 points, while Andres Thompson added 15.
East, which is 26-2 overall, now looks to match that 1981 team by finishing the conference season undefeated. They have Harlem, Auburn and Jefferson left on the schedule.
On the girls side, Boylan entered Saturday’s delayed matchup with Hononegah at 15-0 and ranked fifth in Class 4A in the state. The Titans were aiming for their third straight undefeated conference championship and had already defeated the Indians 66-59 in early January.
This time, on the final night of the regular season after being postponed from Tuesday, Hononegah had the hot hand. After a tight start, the Indians broke things open and rolled to a 73-48 win at home.
Jordan King led the Indians with 20 points, while Peyton Kennedy topped Boylan with 19.
While Hononegah is 17-1, Boylan sits at 16-1 having not gotten in its game against Auburn due to the recent bad weather. It’s possible they could make that game up this week, however Class 3A and 4A playoffs also begin. So the league will determine if there is a makeup or a co-championship or if they will give the title to Hononegah.
Hononegah had won the title in 2015 and 16 before relinquishing the crown to Boylan the last two years.
Saturday’s game was interrupted by a frightening fall by Boylan starting point guard Frankie Schiro just before halftime. The senior was taken of the floor by stretcher and her condition was not known as of this writing.
And while the NIC-10’s best were battling, some history was made from teams on the other end of the conference.
Jefferson knocked off Bevidere 44-41 in overtime to notch its first conference win of the season and its first home victory in eight years.
Camron Blank scored 29 points for Jefferson, which didn’t even field a team last season.
In Class 2A playoff action, Winnebago rolled over fellow Big Northern team Byron 81-48 in the Friday’s Winnebago Regional final.
The Indians move on to Monday’s Oregon Sectional semifinal, where they will face Sherrard at 7:30 pm. The sectional final is Thursday.
For the ninth year in a row, Hononegah is the NIC-10 boys swimming champ.
The Indians tallied 254 points, with Guilford taking second with 229.
Camden Leonard paced Hononegah with a pair of victories in 200 IM and the 100 freestyle.
With a third straight state team title in sight, the Harlem Girls Bowling took care of business on Saturday by winning the Jefferson Sectional title with 6,320 pins, easily topping second-place Sycamore, which had 5,901.
And defending state individual champ Rebecca Hagerman looks like she is heading for a repeat after taking the sectional crown with a pinfall of 1,362.
Freeport, which placed fourth, also advanced to state next Saturday at Cherry Bowl in Rockford.
Several area wrestlers advanced to state after Saturday’s sectionals. They include:
Class 1A: Oregon’s Chase Clark (152), Andrew Herbst (106), Jacob Milliman (113) and Noah Paul (132); Byron’s Colton Ingram (195), Tyler Elsbury (285) and Peyton Lind (220); Stillman Valley’s Mason Engelkens (152) and Winnebago’s Bryce Faworski (145).
Class 2A: Freeport’s Matthew Chavers, Markel Baker (113), Keondre Jackson (152), Major Dedmond (170) and Isaiah Batteast (285).
Class 3A: Harlem’s Cadence Hecox (182), Chad Richards (160) and Jevin Doke (113); East’s Aydin Guttridge (285) and Saw Htoo; Hononegah’s Paul Fay (285) and Giovanni Cassioppi (145); Auburn’s Lance Morgan (285);and Belvidere’s Trever Dawson (220).