Grafton sweeps Cedarburg

Boys rack up 86 points; girls have enough left in tank after busy week

GRAFTON’S ELLA DAY and Cedarburg’s Nicole Brandt played a game of “mine” in the Black Hawks’ 51-37 road victory last Friday. Photo by Mitch Maersch
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
ozaukee Press Staff

Defensive toughness has been one of the themes for the Grafton High School boys’ basketball team this season, and the offense has become an increasing beneficiary.

Last Friday, the Black Hawks topped rival Cedarburg, 86-72, on the road. Their point total was one more than the high-octane Milwaukee Bucks had in breaking the franchise’s halftime scoring record against Washington on Feb. 6.

The victory completed the second sweep of Cedarburg this season in girls-boys doubleheaders.

Alex Huibregtse, who can create offense for himself through dribble penetration or pull-up jumpers, led all scorers with 27 points. Zach Weir, who has been coming on as of late, scored 13. Ben Wilkin added 11, going 3-for-5 on three-pointers, and 6-feet-7-inch J.P. Benzschawel scored 10, shooting 5-for-6 from the field.

Coach Damon James has praised his team’s scoring balance all season.

“For the most part we shared the ball, tried to play for each other,” he said.

The Hawks used an 11-5 run in the final few minutes of the first half to create some separation — 40-33 — by the break.

That cushion bent but never broke the rest of the game. The lead topped out at 60-45 edge with nine and a half minutes to play.

The Bulldogs closed to 70-64 with 3 minutes, 45 seconds left, but Tyler Tsui — all 5-6 of him — stepped up for a key play.

Tsui stood his ground against the Bulldogs’ leading scorer Drew Biber and drew a charge. It was Biber’s fifth foul, and he followed it by getting whistled for a technical.

Huibregtse made both free throws, and on the ensuing possession Tsui forced a jump ball on a three-point miss. The Hawks had the possession arrow, and Huibregtse drove inside for two more points.

The lead was back to 74-64, and the Bulldogs never got closer than eight the rest of the way.

“That’s the toughness. We talk about that with our guys, and Tyler’s doing a great job of exhibiting that toughness,” James said.

“He’s been coming in and making some shots, too. That’s been awesome.”

This time, however, the defense went overboard as the Hawks got into foul trouble early. High-flying guard Bryson Clague couldn’t get on track and had to sit before fouling out in the second half.

“A lot of that is the maturity piece of these guys understanding, ‘Listen, we can still be aggressive, be solid and play without fouling,’” James said.

The Bulldogs used a 24-for-31 night at the free-throw line to stay in the game.

The Hawks’ aggressive offensive style helped them to an 18-for-25 performance at the line.

But the Hawks can go deep on their bench without much of a dropoff in quality play.

“I think that’s a testament to those guys pushing each other every day in practice,” James said.

James likes that his team gets out to fast starts and early leads. Now, he wants to put opponents away. The Hawks had a couple of chances to expand their advantage to a nearly insurmountable lead, but couldn’t quite do it.

“That’s the next step for us to grow. We’ve got to take it to the next level with that,” James said.

Huibregtse said the game was a “must win” for playoff seeding, and he likes when the team fires out of the gates early.

“When we start slow, we have to pick it up late at the end of the game. If we keep our foot on the throttle, we’ll be good,” he said.

Grafton went to 8-6 in the North Shore Conference, 11-7 overall. Cedarburg fell to 3-12 in the NSC.

Hangin’ with Nicolet for a half

The Hawks on Feb. 5 were only down, 31-20, at halftime at Nicolet, one of the top-ranked teams in the country.

That turned into an 86-47 loss after the Knights put up 55 points in the second half.

Huibregtse had 10 points and nine rebounds. Tsui had nine points and Jaden Polack had seven.

Jamari Sibley scored 19 and Jalen Johnson 18 for Nicolet.

The Hawks were to host Hartford on Wednesday and Slinger on Friday. They play at Homestead on Monday, Feb. 18, and host Port Washington on Thursday, Feb. 21.Just enough fumes to get by

The Lady Hawks were understandably running on empty coming into Cedarburg for the early game on Friday.

They beat Nicolet on Tuesday and Homestead on Thursday. It was their third game in less than 72 hours. The team went to Cedarburg right after school to watch film and then the junior-varsity game before the varsity’s 5:45 p.m. start.

But they had enough left in the tank to take a 14-4 lead seven minutes into the game and cruise to a 51-37 victory.

“They’re exhausted,” coach Mike Grzesiak said.

“I told them, ‘You came out with energy last two games. I need that but you’ve got to turn it up a little bit.’ I asked a lot in the first five minutes. I got that. I figured it would kind of gradually go down.

Luckily, we built a lead and were able to maintain that.”

Grafton’s all-time points leader Hannah Belanger scored 18 and, more importantly, shut down the Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer. Clare Diener, who fires nearly 10 three-pointers per game, scored 11.6 points less than her season average of 11.6. Belanger held her to a goose egg.

“I tried to lock her down. That was my goal,” Belanger said.

Mya Masse held Khendel Rolison, the Bulldogs’ leadiing scorer at 12.7 points per game, to eight.

“Mya Masse’s playing awesome defense right now,” Grzesiak said.

Point guard Hailey Block scored 12 points, and Lexi Hilgart had seven.

The Bulldogs tried a zone defense to start, but the Hawks figured it out.

“We just had to think about it more,” Hilgart said.

Avenging loss to Homestead at home

The Hawks last Thursday beat Homestead, 49-41, to even the season series.

Belanger had 23 points. Masse and Block each had eight. Hilgart had six.

Grace Mueller had 24 for Homestead.

“We played zone for most of the game, and that was able to take them out of what they wanted to do,” Belanger said.

Grafton 65, Nicolet 46

The Hawks on Feb. 5 honored Belanger for breaking the school’s all-time scoring record in the previous game. She then poured in 28 more points to lead all scorers.

Hilgart had 13 and Block had eight.

Madison Sims had 12 for Nicolet.

The Hawks, 11-5 in the NSC and 14-6 overall, play at Slinger (14-1 NSC) on Thursday and at Hartford (3-13) on Monday.

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