A cornucopia of NIC-10 hoops accomplishments
Jefferson's boys basketball team won its 10th regional title since the school opened in 1971-72. It's the fourth in Todd Brannan's 10 years as coach.
The J-Hawks also set a school record for wins when it won its 24th game of the year against Crystal Lake South to open the IHSA state playoffs. The previous record was 23 by the 2014-2015 J-Hawks (23-9 under Brannan) and the 2004-2005 J-Hawks under coach Mike Winters.
The J-Hawks now have 25 wins and play Dundee-Crown Wedneday night in a 4A sectional.
Boylan's girls team lost to Geneva this past week, finishing the season 32-1. It was a school record for Boylan and missed the NIC-10 record by one game. The 1994-1995 Freeport Pretzels, which finished third in the IHSA Class AA tournament, ended that season 33-1.
This was the senior year of Jenny Crouse, the all-time Pretzel great who scored 2,037 points in high school then led NCAA Division II North Dakota to three national championships - she's in the UND Hall of Famee - before playing professional basketball for 10 years in Spain, Greece, Germany and Australia.
Hononegah's Jordan King scored 696 points this year and already is at 1,749 points for her career with one season to go. Barring something unforseen, she'll set the all-time NIC-10 scoring record for boys or girls. Here are the players she still is chasing.
Player, School -- Points
Lee Lampley, Boylan, 2,419
Brea Edwards, Boy/Hon, 2,130
Amanda Levens, Belvidere, 2,078
Jenny Crouse, Freeport, 2,037
Aminata Yanni, Harlem, 1,948
Jim Shikenjanski, Hononegah, 1,911
Ryan Hoover, Hononegah, 1,793
Cierra Pulliam, Guilford, 1,763
Fred Van Vleet, Auburn, 1,754
King also was first-team All-NIC-10 this season for the third straight time and MVP for the second straight year. Aminata Yanni was the last three-time conference MVP, something King can match next year.
Auburn's run to a regional title gave the Rockford School District three 20-win teams for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. It also gave the conference five 20-win teams for the first time ever - Jefferson (25), Boylan (20), Auburn (20), Hononegah (20) and East (20). Twice, the conference had four 20-win teams, but never five.
Auburn's regional title win was the 18th in school history and seventh under coach Bryan Ott. Ott's success shows that many times you just need to stick with a coach and give him a chance to turn things around. Ott's teams never had a winning record in his first seven seasons and his career record was just 71-108. The Knights haven't had a losing record in the last 12. His teams are 269-97 in that time.
Boylan's regional title was the fourth in seven years since Steve Goers retired. The Titans are 155-56 under Mike Winters and now Brett McAllister.
The top two "dynasties" in the area right now would have to Harlem girls bowling and the Rock Valley College women's basketball team under Misty Opat.
The Huskies have won back-to-back state championships and seven IHSA titles since 2000.
The Golden Eagles have won four NJCAA Division III national championship under Opat since the 2011-2012 season.
RVC will get to try for a fifth in two weeks. The Golden Eagles thumped Columbus State University of Ohio Saturday, 93-52, to make the final eight. Madi Hecox, a Rockford East graduate who is leading the team in scoring, had 22. RVC got an unexpected boost from Madison Vicencio, a Harlem grad, who also poured in 22.
Vicencio, a sophomore, has been in and out of the rotation this year. She started Saturday because of injuries to other players and a new-found three-point shooting touch. She said the 22 points was a career-high "at any level."
Normally, when a team qualifies for a state or national tournament, you say "earned a trip to." That's not accurate this year. The NJCAA Division III national tournament will take place at Rock Valley for the first time ever. The dates are March 15-17.