Created:Monday, February 3, 2014 5:08 p.m.CDT
Updated:Tuesday, February 4, 2014 6:41 p.m.CDT

Boys basketball insider: Harvard's Nolen athlete of week

Kyle Grillot - Harvard senior Justin Nolen puts up a shot under pressure from Marengo senior Justin Velasquez (20) and junior Weston Shepard (4) during the first quarter of the boys basketball game of the Castle Challenge Friday in Harvard. Marengo beat Harvard 54-45. (Kyle Grillot)

Athlete of the Week

Justin Nolen

Harvard, sr.

Nolen scored a combined 41 points in two games as the Hornets went 1-1 over the weekend. Nolen scored 24 points in Harvard’s 54-45 loss to Marengo on Friday in a Big Northern Conference East Division game that was part of the Castle Challenge between the rival schools.

On Saturday, Nolen led the Hornets with 17 points in Harvard’s 59-45 nonconference victory over Alden-Hebron.


Familiar foes: Marengo coach Will Benson coached his first game against Harvard on Friday night, which was a little strange because not only is Benson the Hornets’ former coach, but he still teaches physical education at Harvard.

Three of Harvard’s starters – Nolen, Fernando Carrera and Tate Miller – are in Benson’s first-hour home room. Benson coached Harvard from 2010 through 2012, then worked as Jacobs’ sophomore coach last season. Marengo did not have a teaching position for Benson, so he remains at Harvard in that capacity.

Marengo won the game behind 24 points from Wesson Shepard.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Benson said. “People at Harvard know I’m the same person. A couple of the kids’ chants were pretty clever. It was a great atmosphere.” Harvard coach Donnie Nolen was Benson’s assistant for the three seasons he was coach.

“It was a really fun night for all the kids,” Benson said. “Donnie and I are still real good friends. They knew a lot of our stuff and still run some of the stuff we were running [when I was there].”

Nice step: Benson is excited that the Indians (11-9) have their most wins since 2002 (16-12) with a chance to add a few more. The 11 victories ties Marengo’s total from last season, which is the Indians’ most since 2002.

In the Valley: Huntley (6-0) holds a two-game lead over Cary-Grove and Jacobs (both 4-2) in the Fox

Valley Conference Valley Division race at the halfway point. The Red Raiders are trying to win their fourth consecutive division championship.

Grayslake Central (6-0) leads the FVC Fox Division over Woodstock (2-1), Hampshire (3-2) and Grayslake North (3-2).

Weather woes: When Richmond-Burton defeated Marengo, 70-57, Saturday night, it was the first time the Rockets had played in 10 days because of poor weather.

This week’s top games

Woodstock at Woodstock North, 7 p.m. Tuesday

The intracity rivals have their first meeting in an FVC Fox matchup. Woodstock still has nine of its 12 division games remaining.Prairie Ridge at Cary-Grove, 7 p.m. Friday

C-G is two games behind FVC Valley-leading Huntley and needs every win it can get. Prairie Ridge would like to atone for a 55-29 home loss to the Trojans on Jan. 10.

Harvard at Richmond-Burton, 7 p.m. Friday

R-B is tied with Burlington Central and Genoa-Kingston atop the Big Northern Conference East Division standings heading into the second round of games.

Joe Stevenson