Boys basketball insider: Harvard's Nolen athlete of week

Athlete of the Week

Justin Nolen

Harvard, Senior

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 in a 59-45 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 on 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, 54-45, 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 time the Rockets had played in 10 days because of poor weather.

This Week’s Top Games

Woodstock vs. Woodstock North

7 p.m. Tuesday, at Woodstock North

• The intra-city rivals have their first meeting in an FVC Fox matchup. Woodstock still have nine of its 12 division games remaining.

Prairie Ridge vs. Cary-Grove

7 p.m. Friday, at Elroy Fitzgerald Gymnasium

• C-G starts the Week 2 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 vs. Richmond-Burton

7 p.m. Friday, at Lou Ramirez Gymnasium

• 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.