HARTINGTON — Height can put some athletes head and shoulders above their competition, literally.
Hartington-Newcastle senior Belle Harms stands at 6’1”. Throughout the season she used her height and athleticism to dominate the post at both ends of the court.
That, plus her ability as a defender, gave Harms the special distinction of leading all girls in Nebraska in blocks this season.
According to the high school sports website MaxPreps, Harms topped all foes, regardless of class size. The site does not have statistics from all Nebraska teams, however, so the official season-ending statistics may change her status.
Harms finished her senior season with 121 blocks, 40 more than Marlee Taylor of Sandhills/Thedford who is in second place.
The HNS senior also averaged 4.8 blocks per game to lead all of Nebraska girls.
“I think that says a lot about my season,” said Harms. “I honestly had no idea that I was leading in blocks until [I was told after the North Central game]. That’s pretty amazing. I think I had a very successful season.”
When Harms found out her reaction was priceless as she took a step back and showed a look filled with shock, awe, amazement, and pride on her face.
During her senior year, Harms’ talents grew as her confidence did.
The most blocks she had in any of the first six games was four against Pierce and Humphrey St. Francis.
She then swatted away 11 shots against West Holt, and this is where her season in the paint took off.
Harms would post five blocks in three of her next five games, and then would tie her career high of 11 blocks against Homer.
“I think what helped me get all those blocks is staying planted with both feet on the ground and not jumping all of the time. Most times I would stand straight up and they would practically set the ball into my hands. Also,
I would wait until the ball left their hands, so I would swat at it when it was in the air. I got better throughout the season and I didn’t foul out every time.”
Fouling was an issue for the senior early on, but as her confidence grew, her fouls diminished.
Harms culminated her season with a triple- double performance in the Subdistrict Finals against North Central.
The senior swatted 14 blocks, grabbed 13 rebounds, and scored 14 points in the 51-38 win,” said Harms.
“I knew I always had a lot of blocks, but I always thought there were girls out there who had way more than me. So it was surprising and exciting to learn that.”
Harms’ presence down low was a huge aid to the HNS defense, allowing the guards to provide pressure along the outside knowing there was help down low if needed.
“It definitely helps us so much because we know we can take a risk going out because she is going to power down the post on the inside, and we know she will get the rebound with that block,” said senior Willa Scoville. “It really helps with our offense because we can get a quick reversal down the court.”
Harms has always been tall for her age. As a freshman, she earned 24 blocks, with the team earning only one other block on the season by then junior Sophie Noecker.
An injury in Harms’ sophomore year restricted her to 16 of the team’s 21 games, and she earned 18 blocks.
“For the start of my sophomore year, I had a shoulder injury so I didn’t play volleyball and I planned on not playing basketball either because the recovery was so long,” said Harms. “I did end up recovering very fast and I was able to play basket- ball the last half of my sophomore year.”
Her junior year, Harms had 77 blocks, with a season-high of seven blocks in two of her final five games.
She added 121 blocks her senior year to finish her career with 240 blocks.
Leading Nebraska also put Harms on the MaxPreps national top 100 list for blocks this season.
Harms finished 68th in the nation in blocks per game, and was also 68th in total blocks this season.
As for the seniors’ next move, it seems she may be satisfied with her basketball career, and will focus on academics in college.
“I have gotten some offers to play college basketball this past year and last year,” said Harms. “Many people ask me about it and back when I was maybe a freshman I would’ve told you yes, but I have decided that I’m not doing any college sport. I want to work on my education, and I’m not all excited about basketball and other sports as I used to be. I just became a little tired of all the sports. And don’t get me wrong, I love the game, but I planned on giving it my all this last year and I think I have done a great job, and had a very good high school career.”
The senior still has track and field season, where she is a hurdler. She has qualified for state all three years, and looks to make it a fourth this spring.
As a freshman, she qualified in the 400m relay, 100m hurdles, and 300m hurdles. As a sophomore, she qualified in the triple jump and 100m hurdles. As a junior, she qualified in the 100m hurdles, triple jump, and 400m relay.