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HARTSBURG - They have hoisted a championship trophy on three different occasions this season.

Curtis Conrady isn't impressed.

There is only one trophy - actually it's a plaque - that interests the Hartsburg-Emden High School senior point guard.

"I told Coach (Josh Nauman) I would rather win the regional and not win a game during the season," said Conrady.

Hartem actually won plenty during the regular season, compiling a 24-3 record while claiming the Athens, State Farm Holiday Classic and A/C tournament titles. But now, for Conrady and his teammates, the real season officially begins.

The Stags are the No. 2 sub-sectional seed in the Class A Fieldcrest Sectional. Hartsburg-Emden will serve as regional host this week, two victories away from advancing to Minonk for the sectional.

A regional title has been a personal quest for Conrady and fellow seniors Scott Ubbenga and Jacob Moehring. Their younger teammates advanced to state or won state titles in junior high. The Stags' volleyball team has made the Elite Eight the past two seasons, capturing third place in November.

Conrady, Ubbenga and Moehring haven't experienced any of those joys. They've never won a regional title on any level.

"We've had some good teams, but we've never put it together," said Ubbenga.

Hartem will open regional play on Wednesday, meeting the winner of today's game between El Paso-Gridley and Olympia. The championship game is Friday.

There have been only two regional titles in Hartsburg-Emden's history - 1948 and 1995. Hartem wears a practice jersey with "1948, 1995, 200?" on the back.

"Scott came up with it and said he wanted a reminder what it is we're working for," said Nauman.

This tiny school from Logan County (enrollment 84) has felt a target on its back all season. The Stags returned most of last season's squad that went 22-8. Hartem upset University High in the regional semifinals before losing to Delavan.

The 5-foot-10 Conrady is the Stags' unquestioned leader. He has been on the varsity since his freshman year and started for three years.

Ubbenga posts the biggest numbers on the stats sheet (22.8 points per game, 63 3-pointers), but Nauman said Conrady does things you can't put a value on besides leading the team in assists and steals.

"We don't play nearly as well when he's not on the floor," said Nauman. "Whatever he does, everyone else follows. That's the first thing I noticed when I came here (two years ago). The first summer I was here, when Curtis was down about something everyone else follows. If Curtis stays positive or encouraging, the rest of them are fine. I keep telling him you have to show the face they need to see."

The Stags have put their best game face forward most of the season. Their shining moment may have been at the Christmas break when they earned the State Farm Holiday Classic crown, slipping past CPCI 55-52 in a well-played championship game and prevailing in a strong 16-team field.

The season's low point came a couple weeks later. Warrensburg-Latham gave the Stags their only home loss, 85-66. Three days later, Hartem lost a 15-point third-quarter lead at Lewistown and fell 55-52.

"The biggest thing is staying focused. This group tends to sometimes - especially in the past and they're getting better about it - playing to the level of competition," said Nauman. "Sometimes we let teams hang around that shouldn't. When we play teams we think we should beat we're frustrated when we're not up 10 at the end of the first quarter."

Hartem, which leads the area in scoring at 68.4 points, has reeled off nine straight victories coming into the regional. Sophomore forward Dakin Bolen adds 11.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, while junior guard Gary Rademaker contributes 10.2 points. The other starters are the Conrady brothers - Curtis (5.0 ppg) and his junior brother, Josh (9.5 ppg).

The Stags have a unique situation with three brothers, including two sets of twins. Dakin Bolen's twin, Dustin, usually is the first sub off the bench and chips in 7.2 points and 4.5 rebounds. Junior twins Josh and Jason Rohlfs also get plenty of playing time.

If a game gets close late, the Stags figure to look for Ubbenga.

"There aren't too many who can score like he can. His biggest problem is not letting himself get frustrated," said Nauman. "If he thinks he's getting fouled and they're not calling it he'll take himself out of games for two or three minutes because he gets mad. He doesn't play well when he gets mad."

What would make Ubbenga mad is not being able to lift the regional plaque. Winning the regional, though, is just part of Hartem's goals.

The Stags definitely have Peoria and Carver Arena on their radar. The road to the state finals might be easier in two years when the Illinois High School Association expands the tourney to four classes. If the Stags had this team then, they might be considered one of the favorites to win it all.

However, Curtis Conrady is glad this isn't 2008.

"I like it now. I don't think it would be the same if there were four classes," he said.

Hartem out for more hardware

Stags have regional title, and more, in their sights

By Jim Benson

HARTSBURG - They have hoisted a championship trophy on three different occasions this season.

Curtis Conrady isn't impressed.

There is only one trophy - actually it's a plaque - that interests the Hartsburg-Emden High School senior point guard.

"I told Coach (Josh Nauman) I would rather win the regional and not win a game during the season," said Conrady.

Hartem actually won plenty during the regular season, compiling a 24-3 record while claiming the Athens, State Farm Holiday Classic and A/C tournament titles. But now, for Conrady and his teammates, the real season officially begins.

The Stags are the No. 2 sub-sectional seed in the Class A Fieldcrest Sectional. Hartsburg-Emden will serve as regional host this week, two victories away from advancing to Minonk for the sectional.

A regional title has been a personal quest for Conrady and fellow seniors Scott Ubbenga and Jacob Moehring. Their younger teammates advanced to state or won state titles in junior high. The Stags' volleyball team has made the Elite Eight the past two seasons, capturing third place in November.

Conrady, Ubbenga and Moehring haven't experienced any of those joys. They've never won a regional title on any level.

"We've had some good teams, but we've never put it together," said Ubbenga.

Hartem will open regional play on Wednesday, meeting the winner of today's game between El Paso-Gridley and Olympia. The championship game is Friday.

There have been only two regional titles in Hartsburg-Emden's history - 1948 and 1995. Hartem wears a practice jersey with "1948, 1995, 200?" on the back.

"Scott came up with it and said he wanted a reminder what it is we're working for," said Nauman.

This tiny school from Logan County (enrollment 84) has felt a target on its back all season. The Stags returned most of last season's squad that went 22-8. Hartem upset University High in the regional semifinals before losing to Delavan.

The 5-foot-10 Conrady is the Stags' unquestioned leader. He has been on the varsity since his freshman year and started for three years.

Ubbenga posts the biggest numbers on the stats sheet (22.8 points per game, 63 3-pointers), but Nauman said Conrady does things you can't put a value on besides leading the team in assists and steals.

"We don't play nearly as well when he's not on the floor," said Nauman. "Whatever he does, everyone else follows. That's the first thing I noticed when I came here (two years ago). The first summer I was here, when Curtis was down about something everyone else follows. If Curtis stays positive or encouraging, the rest of them are fine. I keep telling him you have to show the face they need to see."

The Stags have put their best game face forward most of the season. Their shining moment may have been at the Christmas break when they earned the State Farm Holiday Classic crown, slipping past CPCI 55-52 in a well-played championship game and prevailing in a strong 16-team field.

The season's low point came a couple weeks later. Warrensburg-Latham gave the Stags their only home loss, 85-66. Three days later, Hartem lost a 15-point third-quarter lead at Lewistown and fell 55-52.

"The biggest thing is staying focused. This group tends to sometimes - especially in the past and they're getting better about it - playing to the level of competition," said Nauman. "Sometimes we let teams hang around that shouldn't. When we play teams we think we should beat we're frustrated when we're not up 10 at the end of the first quarter."

Hartem, which leads the area in scoring at 68.4 points, has reeled off nine straight victories coming into the regional. Sophomore forward Dakin Bolen adds 11.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, while junior guard Gary Rademaker contributes 10.2 points. The other starters are the Conrady brothers - Curtis (5.0 ppg) and his junior brother, Josh (9.5 ppg).

The Stags have a unique situation with three brothers, including two sets of twins. Dakin Bolen's twin, Dustin, usually is the first sub off the bench and chips in 7.2 points and 4.5 rebounds. Junior twins Josh and Jason Rohlfs also get plenty of playing time.

If a game gets close late, the Stags figure to look for Ubbenga.

"There aren't too many who can score like he can. His biggest problem is not letting himself get frustrated," said Nauman. "If he thinks he's getting fouled and they're not calling it he'll take himself out of games for two or three minutes because he gets mad. He doesn't play well when he gets mad."

What would make Ubbenga mad is not being able to lift the regional plaque. Winning the regional, though, is just part of Hartem's goals.

The Stags definitely have Peoria and Carver Arena on their radar. The road to the state finals might be easier in two years when the Illinois High School Association expands the tourney to four classes. If the Stags had this team then, they might be considered one of the favorites to win it all.

However, Curtis Conrady is glad this isn't 2008.

"I like it now. I don't think it would be the same if there were four classes," he said.

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