Fox boys basketball notes: Lothery, Harvest Christian soaring to new heights

Harvest Christian Academy might be one of the smallest high schools in the area with an enrollment of 165 (according to the IHSA).

That hasn't stopped the Lions from possessing one of the area's top boys basketball records - now 19-5 after Tuesday's 47-40 showdown win over state-ranked South Beloit (16-5).

Coach Bryan Bradshaw's team, fresh off an impressive 69-47 road victory over Richmond-Burton last Saturday, also fields one of the area's top scorers in Ben Lothery.

Lothery, a 6-foot-1 senior guard who averages 21 points and 3.3 assists per game this season, continues to improve his all-around game, according to Bradshaw.

"Ben has grown as a scorer," said Bradshaw. "Early on in his career, he was a great three-point shooter. His knack for getting to his spot and in the paint has grown and made him more dangerous as an offensive threat."

How much of an offensive threat is Lothery?

In early December, Lothery poured in a career-high 38 points with seven 3-pointers during the Lions' 90-49 victory over Schaumburg Christian.

Last week, Lothery scored 22 points with five 3-pointers during the Lions' 49-41 overtime loss to Stillman Valley, then returned later that day and scored a team-high 28 points with six 3-pointers, and added 3 assists and 3 steals in Harvest Christian's 66-48 victory over North Boone.

"I always knew that Ben had a great eye for finding open spots and creating opportunities for him and others to score," said Bradshaw. "He has great knowledge of the game and can see plays develop before they happen."

While Lothery has thrived as the Lions' outside shooting threat, 6-4 junior forward Kaden Meeker has provided the team an inside presence.

Meeker scored 15 points with 8 rebounds against Richmond-Burton, and added a near carbon copy with 15 points and 7 boards in the Lions' 44-42 loss to Hinckley-Big Rock last Thursday - Harvest's first home loss (8-1).

Other contributors include seniors Dan Winkleman, Antonio Wilder, and junior JJ Gonnam.

Gonnam scored 14 points against Richmond-Burton, while Wilder added 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc, and Winkleman had 9 points on three 3-pointers.

Harvest Christian owns a 5-0 mark in Northeastern Athletic Conference play.

"Our mindset is on finishing the remaining games strong and secure one of the top seeds in our sectional," said Bradshaw. "We will try to be playing our best basketball when regionals roll around."

South Elgin update:

Despite last Saturday's 75-45 nonconference loss to Burlington Central, South Elgin remains in Upstate Eight Conference title contention with 3 regular-season weeks remaining.

The Storm (13-9) improved to 10-1 - tied with Fenton in the UEC - with last Friday's come-from-behind, 58-56 home triumph over Larkin.

First-year head coach Phil Church's team owns a 5-1 mark in conference games decided by 7 points or fewer, with the lone loss coming at the hands of the Bison (61-60) on Dec. 20.

The UEC co-leaders meet again on Feb. 7 in Bensenville.

"I think I've got the most seniors that people play, regardless of whether they played a lot last year," said Church, who started an all-senior lineup with Sean Harvey, Mason Montgomery, Victor Sison, Jake Tiaokhiao, and Elias Cole Williams against Larkin.

"I think when you look at the scale of the conference right now, and we talk about probably the four purest players who are juniors. You've got two at Bartlett (Kelton McEwen and Nathan Scearce), there's one at Fenton who is hurt (Xavior Gonzalez), and (Larkin's Jakob) Blakley.

"Next year, this conference is going to be loaded, so we'll take the wins while we get them."

Led by Cole Williams and 6-7 forward/center Harvey, South Elgin now finds itself as a team circled on opponents' schedules.

"I think it's a testament to guys who are under the radar and kind of have a chip on their shoulders," said Church. "Now, they're learning to play when that bulls-eye is on their backs."

Larkin update:

Larkin slipped to 9-14 overall following Saturday's 77-43 loss to DuKane Conference front-runner Wheaton Warrenville South (19-2).

One night earlier, the Royals let a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away in their 2 point-loss to South Elgin despite a 28-point effort from junior guard Jakob Blakley.

Now, the defending Upstate Eight champions have set their attention to next month's postseason.

"We're out of the conference race now," said Larkin coach Deryn Carter, whose team is 6-5 in the UEC but 4 games in back of both Fenton and South Elgin.

"All we're trying to do is get ready for a regional championship. Hopefully, we're building up some scars and some callouses and we're ready to go come regional time."

First, the good news.

Elgin update:

Elgin (8-14, 1-10) has doubled its win total from a year ago (4-23) under the direction of first-year Maroons head coach Brett Johnson, and led by junior guard Maddox Hollian.

Now, the not-so-good news.

Weekend defeats at the hands of Kaneland (73-44) and Brooks (59-48) extended Elgin's losing streak to 8.

"I think it's a long process and hopefully come the end of the season and playoff time, we can continue to get better and learn from these losses," said Johnson.

The Maroons host Bartlett (14-8, 7-4) Friday night.

Scharnowski nears 1,000:

After scoring 34 points Tuesday in a 61-45 win over Dundee-Crown, Burlington Central senior Drew Scharnowski is 19 points away from 1,0000.

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