Brey Picks Up a Fourth, Joe Harden
Harden is a anywhere between 6'5" and 6'7" (not sure which is "in his bare feet",) has played guard and inside for his St. Marys team in Northern California, really wherever he is needed. The good news is that's a great combination for the three spot where Notre Dame has been unable to land a consistent threat who's big enough to go inside and deft enough to add an outside scoring threat (Miller,Graves.) His pictures on the St. Mary's web site indicate Harden has the ability to get above the rim and his experience as a guard should serve him well on the perimeter, which is where he'll play with three guards already slated for the back court (Jackson, McAlarney, Peoples.)
Harden would appear to be a great late in the game pick-up for Brey who already has Luke Harangody (Bamm Bamm,) Tory Jackson (Pebbles - kidding) and Jonathan Peoples, a group that quite unexpectantly stacks up well with last year's class, considered Brey's best at Notre Dame.Joe Harden, 6-5 JR SG Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary’s.
Greg Hicks of Scout saw Harden at Pangos and had this to say:
"Harden had an outstanding camp, displaying a very good outside shot and a great feel for the game. He’s much bouncier than we remembered him from last summer and, overall, he’s a good athlete. He’s got a solid frame and should end up pretty strong by the time he gets to college. He’s got great hands on defense – he had a ton of deflections and steals. He’s very good at ripping the ball from unsuspecting opponents who let him get too close. Harden’s unselfishness was refreshing in a camp full of gunners. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: in an age where very few kids know how to play the game, the ones that do get it stand out in a very obvious way. Harden gets it and that’s why he is, in our opinion, a high major prospect."
Scout's blurb on Harden reads: "Harden has a great feel for the game. May end up a two or three. Solid frame, moves well and terrific instincts. A likely mid major prospect who could go higher."
But his local press is an even better read.
Sure they were the top-seeded Division III team in the Sac-Joaquin Section, but how could they make a serious playoff push without one of their star players?
Harden, always the consummate team player, has had to take charge offensively of late, turning up his scoring output during his team's playoff run.
In the NorCal quarterfinal game, Harden exploded for 40 points to lead St. Mary's in a 95-80 shoot-out victory over Seaside. He followed that performance with a 30-point effort in a 64-49 semifinal win over DeAnza. In the NorCal title game against Sacramento, he only scored 13 points, but that was just enough as the Rams won a defensive struggle 37-35.
"He just produces on both ends," Green said. "Obviously his scoring, but he rebounds, handles the ball and helps out on defense. He just does so many things well right now. We wouldn't be here without him."
Harden's production has also helped his college stock, with more coaches from around the country showing interest in the senior. Major programs such as Notre Dame, Virginia and USC have been contact with him, as well as mid-majors, like UC Santa Barbara, Loyola Marymount and San Diego.
Although Green is quick to point out his star player is not focused on that right now.
"He's gotten more attention, but that's not what drives him," Green said. "He's playing like he's focused on just helping us win as much as possible."
"A lot of our guys have stepped up," Harden said. "Joe Reyes has filled his (Simi's) shoes, making big shots. Ty Kelly, a starter all year, has really stepped up when we needed him. I think that's what a championship team does, a lot of guys make big plays."
Added Harden: "It's just been fun. We're just enjoying it. Probably a lot of people didn't pick us to go this far, so we're just going out and having fun and enjoying it."***
Joe Harden scored a career-high 40 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as top-seeded St. Mary's advanced to the CIF Northern California Regional semifinals for the first time in 27 years.
"Tonight, we needed 40 because we couldn't stop (Seaside)," coach Ken Green said after the Rams' 95-80 victory over eighth-seeded Seaside in the Division III showdown on Tuesday night at Morelli Gym. "We definitely had an advantage height-wise, and we were patient enough. We were able to find (Harden) cutting and slashing to the basket."
St. Mary's will face No. 5 DeAnza of Richmond (24-6), a 81-58 winner over Oroville, at 7 p.m. Thursday in a semifinal game at Delta College.***
Harden scored 16 of his 40 points as the Rams (29-3) jumped out to a 30-13 lead on 11 of 14 shooting, but it was senior guard Joe Reyes, who connected on four 3-pointers in the first quarter, who sparked St. Mary's.
"When the first one went in, I got more confidence," said Reyes, who finished with 16 points. "They left me open, and I hit them. I knew we needed to get a good start. I was just the spark to get us going."
Harden, who scored his previous high (36 points) against Edison this season, had two dunks, including a one-handed jam and a thunderous slam on a breakaway.
"Thanks to Ty Kelly - he hooked me up with both of those (dunks)," Harden said. "We had some guys step up, and they gave us a little energy - we fed off it."The Rams remained hot in the second quarter, stretching their lead to 50-31 at halftime."They shot the ball extremely well that first quarter, and after that, we had a lot of defensive breakdowns," Trojans coach Kelvin Garnett said."That first quarter set the tone for the game, and we got ourselves in a big hole. If we played the same intensity of the last 12 minutes, it might have been a different ballgame."***
St. Mary's senior Joe Harden will play the shooting guard or small forward positions in college, but he does not mind playing all over the court for the Rams this season.
"You get to work on all of your game instead of just one aspect," the 6-foot-7, 210-pound senior said.
Because of Harden's versatility and unselfish attitude, St. Mary's (28-3) has won its first Sac-Joaquin Section title since 1989 and earned the top-seed in the Division III CIF Northern California Regionals. The Rams will host eighth-seeded Seaside at 7 p.m. today at Morelli Gym.
"Joe makes it easy for our staff," Rams coach Ken Green said. "He's willing to accept any role - whether it's point guard, power forward or center. There's not a position he can't play, and he's played them all."
Harden, who averages 17 points and 10 rebounds, recently was named most valuable player of the Tri-City Athletic League and has earned the attention of Division I college basketball coaches by both his prep accomplishments and his efforts on a Fresno-based AAU team.
Harden plans on visiting several schools after the season, and his list includes an eclectic mix of schools from Notre Dame, Virginia and Kansas to UC Santa Barbara and Loyola Marymount.
"A lot of the Big West and WCC schools said I could potentially start as a freshman," Harden said. "If I played high-major basketball, I'd have to work on a few things and possibly redshirt. I think I want to play at the best place where I can play."
Before settling on basketball, Harden was among the top teenage tennis players in California. He also played baseball, football, soccer and hockey.
"In the seventh and eighth grade, I kind of narrowed it down," Harden said. "I wanted to be pretty good at one, rather than mediocre at all of them."
One advantage that the Rams have today over the visiting Spartans is size. Along with Harden, the Rams start 6-6 point guard Mark Payne, who averages nine points and 5.5 rebounds. Junior Joe Brum and sophomore Patrick Jemerigbe both average eight points.
Seaside, which lost to third-seeded Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco 72-53 in the Central Coast Section championship, makes its first NorCal appearance since 1992 and the first with 10th-year coach Kelvin Garnett.
Jermaine Carter leads the Spartans with 14 points is averaging 17.3 in the playoffs.
"It's going to be a challenge for us," Garnett said. "We need to contain and box out. (Not doing that), killed us against Riordan."
Green said he was impressed with what he saw of Seaside on film and knows that any team that contends for a CCS championship is a dangerous one.
"The CCS is a very tough section, and to get to the finals of that (tournament) is a major accomplishment," Green said. "Their strengths are their quickness and their tenacity. They're playing their best basketball right now, so we more than have our hands full."***Sure they were the top-seeded Division III team in the Sac-Joaquin Section, but how could they make a serious playoff push without one of their star players?
The answer: Lodi native Joe Harden.
The 6-foot-7 senior with shaggy, surfer-blonde hair has scored in flurries, rebounded like a madman and come up clutch time and time again.
"I kind of know my role, if it's to score points then I try do my best at it," Harden said. "We needed it the last couple games. Coach told me that I needed to step up and do whatever it takes to win."
Harden did whatever took and now he has his Rams in the school's first-ever state title game.
It came as no great surprise that when Joe Harden's glorious three-year career at St. Mary's came to an end, he left to a loud, heartfelt ovation.
What was a little shocking was that it was opposing players, from Artesia of Lakewood, who led the applause.
James Harden, who'd been in Joe Harden's face guarding him throughout the game, hugged him. So did Artesia sophomore Malik Story.
Shawntell Norman, a 6-foot-11 bear of a player who'd traded elbows with Harden underneath, walked to midcourt, turned and clapped as Harden made his way down the sideline to the Rams' bench.
The gesture screamed class act on the part of Artesia, which was well on its way to winning the California Interscholastic Federation Division III basketball championship, 60-41, by the time Harden fouled out with 3:17 left.
It also spoke volumes about Harden.
Artesia, ranked sixth in the country by USA Today, saw enough film of St. Mary's to know Harden was the player it had to stop if it was going to win a fourth title for the school. If holding him to 17 points and seven rebounds constitutes a stop, the Pioneers succeeded.
They did so by fronting him on the perimeter with their own Harden, James, and sticking the behemoth Norman underneath to impede his drives. It worked to limit Harden to seven first-half points.
"I've been face guarded this season, but usually I'm taller or quicker than the person guarding me and I can get by him," Harden said. "James is my size and he's quick."
It took until the fourth quarter for Harden to get into a scoring rhythm, the kind of flow that led him to score 40 in the first round of the Northern California playoffs, 31 in the second.
He penetrated and took feeds from his teammates to deliver those rolling lay ups that are something of a trademark. He'd scored eight in a row during a two-minute span and looked like Joe Harden. At the defensive end, the whistle blew and his game, his season, his Rams career was over, 3 minutes and 17 seconds shy of the final buzzer.
He showed no great emotion as he left the floor for the last time, stopping to hug his coaches and teammates as he made his way to a chair. There were no tears. He held his head high.
"It was a great senior year," Harden said. "We shared a lot of good times, and went farther than any St. Mary's team has ever gone, so I couldn't ask for a better season. It was quite an accomplishment. I'm proud of this team."
As much as he shared the credit with his teammates, he had to have felt he was going 1-on-5 in the state title game. With senior point guard Mark Payne on crutches, his foot broken, it was left to Harden to take the ball up the floor for the Rams.
Defensively, he took his 6-foot-7 self into the middle of the Rams' 2-3 zone and bellied up to the taller, thicker Norman.
"He's been like that all year," coach Ken Green said. "He'd say, 'Wherever you want me, just tell me. In college he'll play on the wing, but because of his ball handling skills, we needed him back."
Harden has yet to pick a college. He's visited UC Santa Barbara, and plans visits to Notre Dame, San Diego, Loyola Marymount and Virginia.
The team that signs him gets something more than a guard with ball handling, shooting and rebounding skills.
"He's a great student, has a strong work ethic and is a very good teammate," Green said. "He's been so unselfish, sometimes too unselfish."
Arriving at St. Mary's with great expectations already upon him - and playing on the sophomore team as a freshman - didn't faze Harden. Neither did playing big-time talent in big-time summer league games.
His success and growing reputation never breached the head under that floppy blond hair. Harden's ego never ran ahead of his talent. As good as he was on the court, he was of equal quality off of it.
That, as much as leading the Rams to their first-ever state title game, will be his legacy.
"I could have gone to Lodi," Harden said. "My sister (tennis player Kate Harden) did, but my friend (Payne) was going to St. Mary's and we'd played AAU ball together. Then coach came here and it all worked out. I couldn't ask for a better four years. It's gone by fast, but I've made great friendships."
And left a great impression on fans and opposing players, alike.Press Clippings
Joe Harden Named "Player of the Week"
The Record named Joe Harden it's player of the week March 15, 2006. This is the third time this season that Joe has been named a Player of the Week.. Joe scored scored 84 points in three CIF Northern California playoff games, including 40 in a 95-80 win over Seaside. He is a Division 1 college prospect
Joe Harden scored a career-high 40 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as top-seeded St. Mary's advanced to the CIF Northern California Regional semifinals for the first time in 27 years. The Rams' posted a 95-80 victory over eighth-seeded Seaside in the Division III showdown. Joe Reyes had 16, Mark Paine had 16 and Ty Kelly had 10 in the win. St. Mary's moves on to the second round of the NorCals on Thursday at SJ Delta's gym.
Joe Harden scored 31 points and all other starters scored as top-seeded St. Mary's beat De Anza High School 65-49 to advance to the CIF Northern California Regional championship game at ARCO Arena against Sacramento HIgh.
Joe Harden and Jackie Gemelos Named Players of the Year
St. Mary's seniors Joe Harden and Jacki Gemelos were named the most valuable players of the Tri-City Athletic League for boys and girls basketball, respectively.
Men's Basketball Takes First Section Crown Since 1989
The Rams Men's basketball team overcame a strong Sacramento team to earn a 44-38 victory over the Dragons. With the win in the Division III final at ARCO Arena on Friday night, St. Mary's had its first Sac-Joaquin Section championship since 1989.
Joe Harden had 16 points and 12 rebounds, Mark Payne and Ty Kelly, who scored eight points apiece. With less than four minutes remaining Joe Reyes made one of three 3-pointers for St. Mary's and Mark Payne and Ty Kelly closed the game out with clutch free-throw shooting.
Men's Basketball Advances to Sac-Joaquin Section Final With Win
The St. Mary's Rams' 65-41 semifinal win over No. 5 Union Mine (22-8) on Wednesday at Warrior Gym sets up a re-match with Sacramento High School at ARCO Arena on Friday, March 3, 2006 at 9:00 p.m. for the championship of the Sac-Joaquin Section. Joe Harden said after scoring a game-high 21 points and Mark Payne scored 13 points for St. Mary's.
Men's Basketball Wins In First Playoff Round
Joe Harden had 26 points as the Rams beat Vanden 70-42 to start the playoff season. St. Mary's is 25-3, 10-2 T-CAL.
St. Mary's Out Performs West in League Contest
Behind Joe Harden's and Anthony Simi had 16 points each as the Rams, after a sluggish first half, came out roaring to beat league rival, West, 72-41. SM is 20-2 and 6-1 TCAL
St. Mary's Basketball Stars Named Athletes of the Week
St. Mary's standout players Joe Harden and Jackie Gemelos were named The Records Athletes of the Week. Joe scored 36 points and had 18 rebounds against Edison while Jackie Scored 52 points over Edison, a career high.
St. Mary's Beats Edison in League Contest
Behind Joe Harden's 36 points, the Rams beat their cross-town rivals, Edison, 64-59 in a hotly contested game. After Edison scored the first bucket, SM to the lead and never lost it. SM is 19-2 and 6-1 TCAL
Rams Men's Basketball Avenge Earlier Loss, Beat Tokay to Take First Place Again
A night of basketball to remember occurred when the St. Mary's Rams sought to avenge an earlier loss to the Tokay Tigers and succeeded 67-62 in overcoming their league rivals. Joe Harden scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half and In the fourth quarter, the team shot 8 of 12 from the field and 8 of 11 from the free-throw line, outscoring the Tigers 25-13 to seal the victory. St. Mary's is 18-2 and 4-1 TCAL. The next match between the leading league rivals will be February 11 at San Joaquin Delta College to accommodate the large crowd expected to what could be the deciding game for the inaugural TCAL championship.
SM Men's Basketball Downs Stagg In League Action
Joe Harden scored 18 points for the Rams as St. Mary's beat Stagg 60-48 to improve to 16-2 and 3-1 in the Tri-City Athletic League. Anthony Simi had 13 points for the Rams.
Rams Men's Team In Comeback Win Over Sheldon
Joe Harden scored a game-high 21 points, and Anthony Simi had 11 to help the Rams rally from a 3-point halftime deficit and beat the Huskies 58-52 in the Hoops for the Hungry benefit event at Valley High in Elk Grove. St. Mary's is 16-2 2-1 TCAL.
Rams Beat Edison in League Contest
Anthony Simi scored a game-high 21 points, Joe Harden had 16, Patrick Jemerigbe scored 14 points, Joe Brum had 10 as the Rams defeated the Vickings 72-56 Friday night at Edison. St. Mary's is 15-2 overall and 2-1 in Tri-City play.
Rams Men's Basketball Adds Another Win
Boys Basketball St. Mary's 72, Kaiser 30
At Honolulu, the Rams finished up the Walter Wong Prep Classic with a lopsided win. Joe Harden led St. Mary's with 18 points and Anthony Simi had 11. Joe Harden and Anthony Simi were both named to the all-tournament team. St. Mary's is now13-1.
Men's Basketball Winning Streak Continues in Hawaii
The Rams (12-0) led by Joe Harden with 20 points beat Kimuki High in the Hawaiian Walter Wong Classic. Anthony Simi had 18 points in the winning effort.
Men's Basketball Winning Streak Continues
The Rams (11-0) led by as many as 22 points in the game and remained undefeated as they beat Franklin of Elk Grove 71-46. Joe Harden scored 22 points and Anthony Simi had 15 for St. Mary's.
Mens Baketball Wins Fr. Barry Tournament with Win
St. Mary's Mens Basketball, continued their unbeaten season with a 64-60 win over Jesuit to win the Father Barry Tournament. Joe Harden, who was named tournament MVP, scored 18 points for St. Mary's. Mark Payne and Anthony Simi scored 21 points in the win against Jesuit to lead the Rams, were named to the All-Tournament team.
Mens Baketball Wins South Lake Tahoe Tournament
At Lake Tahoe, the Rams 5-0 kept every Nevade Union Miner 2-1 under double digits, outscoring them by 30 to take first in the South Lake Tahoe Huskie Classic.
Joe Harden, who scored 19 points for St. Mary's, was named tournament MVP, while Mark Payne and Anthony Simi took home all-tournament honors.
No End in SightThere's no end in sight
St. Mary's finds energy to roll into NorCal final
STOCKTON - Teams that reach the semifinals of the CIF Northern California Regional are supposed to engage in classic, hard-fought battles.
The St. Mary's boys basketball team made it look easy Thursday.
Joe Harden scored a game-high 31 points and the Rams continued their impressive postseason run with a 64-49 rout of De Anza at Delta College's Joe Blanchard Gymnasium.
The Dons, who made a two-hour trip from Richmond for the game, were lethargic in the first half, trailing 30-12 at halftime. Harden matched De Anza's production with a dozen points.
"I don't think they want the season to end," St. Mary's coach Ken Green said of his top-seeded team. "It's a reflection of the way they treat themselves on the court, and how they handle themselves in practice. They just don't want it to end."
Led by Harden, the Rams continued their efficient ways against De Anza. Harden scored 19 of his points in the second half, including a dunk following an alley-oop pass.
Harden's basket made it 42-18 midway through the third quarter, as the fifth-seeded Dons (20-7) were continually fouling the Rams.
"We just look to bring some energy early and not get too high or too low," Green said. "We know it's a 32-minute game. We're playing pretty good as a team now."
If you're passionate about ND Basketball, Mike Coffeys Echoes on the Hardwood is an absolute must read. It's the one book that lets you experience the history of Notre Dame hoops through the players and coaches who wrote it. Echoes on the Hardwood by Mike Coffey