Niles North rallies to shock Schaumburg


Niles North rallies to shock Schaumburg

Sunday, March 13, 2011
12:39 a.m.

By Matt Harness

John King's contributions go mostly unnoticed, but Niles North's defensive stopper made himself known Friday at New Trier.

The senior guard forced a turnover late and Andre Shaw followed with a baseline three-pointer as the 20th-ranked Vikings rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat the Schaumburg 53-52 for the program's first-ever sectional championship.

"We're a second-half team," said King, whose team won for the ninth time in a row and is 16-1 since a Dec. 30 loss to Notre Dame. "We always know we have a chance. We always know we're never out of a game."

Kyle Bolger's basket in the opening minutes of the second half gave the 15th-seeded Saxons a 36-20 lead.

King's three-point play with 2:26 to go in the third cut the deficit down to 10 before Earl Washington scored three points in the final 21.9 seconds of the quarter to leave the score 40-34.

Fourth-seeded Niles North (24-6) continued its comeback in the fourth.

Washington started an 8-0 run that ended with Mychael Henley giving the Vikings their first lead of the at 45-44 with 4:31 remaining. Jimmy Lunquist's two free throws put the Saxons (18-12) ahead 47-45, but Abdel Nader tied the game nearly two minutes later.

King then got the turnover and Nader assisted Shaw's clutch three-pointer that started Niles North's final charge toward school history.

But the Vikings had to hold their breath as Mark Bielanski's wide-open three-point effort bounced off the rim.

Playing in its second sectional final in a row, Schaumburg built up its big lead in the first half by going 15-for-16 on free throws. Bielanski's three right before the break gave the Saxons a 34-20 advantage heading into the locker room.

"Coach just told us to give it all we got," King said of Glenn Olson, who's in the his second season with the Vikings.

Nader finished with a game-high 23 points and added three blocks. Javon McDonald scored 15 for the Saxons, who went 19-for-22 on free throws. Schaumburg's Lundquist contributed 12 points in the season-ending loss.

Niles North plays No. 6-ranked Warren on Tuesday at the Waukegan Supersectional.

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Apparently time doesn’t heal all wounds. 

Nearly a year and a half since being traded to the Coyotes, Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the United Center ice on Thursday playing for the visiting team.  

“It’s going to be strange coming in as the away team and being in the other locker room,” said Hjalmarsson on Wednesday. “I bet it’s going to be a lot of emotions and mixed feelings.” 

This is also the first time Hjalmarsson has been back to the city of Chicago since he was traded, a city he called his “second home.” A home where he spent parts of 10 seasons, and never really planned on leaving.

“I wasn’t happy, to be honest with you,” said Hjalmarsson of the trade to Arizona. “I was shocked. It took me a couple days to actually realize I wasn’t going to play for the Hawks anymore.”

Including the playoffs, Hjalmarsson played 751 games in the Indian head sweater. Despite that and the team’s three Stanley Cup victories, the Blackhawks shipped him off to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in June of 2017.

“You kind of let it go after a while,” he said. “Now I’m just hoping all the success for the guys over here too.”

Hjalmarsson was known for his toughness, repeatedly blocking shot after shot, giving up his body, while never missing a shift. He credits his long-time teammates — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — for a lot of his success and identity on the blue line.

“I couldn’t have had better role models coming into a team,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have played on the same team as those guys and created a lot of success together. We’re always going to be connected with the Cups that we’ve had.”

The third championship won by that defense-trio was on United Center ice against the Lightning in 2015, but that isn’t the memory that stands out most for Hjalmarsson.

“The first Cup is always going to be pretty special,” said the 31-year old. “Even just going to the conference final (in 2009), even when we lost against Detroit that year, the year before was great memories too. The first time for me going into the playoffs and playing deep.”

The tables have turned now for both Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks. 

The Coyotes have yet to score an even-strength goal this season, while the Blackhawks have claimed eight of a possible 10 points thus far through five games and expect to have their starting goaltender back between the pipes. 

But you won’t hear any ill-will from Hjalmarsson, he’s still rooting for the Hawks.

“I always think that Chicago deserves to have a team in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that I wish them not to do well. It’s the total opposite. I want them to have continued success.”

Under Center Podcast: What will we learn about the Bears against the Patriots?

Under Center Podcast: What will we learn about the Bears against the Patriots?

On this week's Under Center podcast, JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin look at how Bill Belichick and New England will attack Matt Nagy and the Bears on Sunday, and if Mitch Trubisky can get to the point where he can reliably lead a late-game scoring drive like Tom Brady is so good at doing.

You can listen to the whole thing here, or in the embedded player below: