Grafton boys’ basketball team snaps 46-game skid on way to tournament title that helps chart new direction
If you’re going to end a long drought, you might as well as do it in style.
When the final buzzer sounded last Saturday night at Heritage Christian High School in Milwaukee, the Grafton boys’ basketball team celebrated not only its second win of the season, but a tournament title as well.
The Black Hawks, who the day before snapped a 46-game losing streak with a semifinal victory in the Christian Classic, emerged with top honors by outlasting the host team, 56-48.
“We had a great weekend,” said Grafton coach Kevin McKenna. “Every team sets goals, and our goal was to win this tournament.
“The execution of our game plan was stellar. The kids really bought into what we were trying to do.”
Those kids had also waited a long time to taste victory. Before it defeated Milwaukee Salam in Friday’s opening round of the four-team tournament, Grafton hadn’t won a game since Dec. 2, 2008, when it downed
University School, 62-55.
“It was great to finally get a win, especially for our seniors,” McKenna said. “But we told our players they still had another job to do, which was winning the tournament.”
In the championship game, the Hawks jumped ahead early and withstood a late rally by Christian. They built a 30-22 lead by intermission, maintained a 43-33 edge after three quarters and used free throws to hold the
Patriots at bay down the stretch.
Guard Robbie Doring scored a game-high 17 points for Grafton, including an 8-for-11 effort at the foul line.
McKenna said the Hawks got key contributions from sophomore forward Scotty Tyler, whose 11 points included a breakaway dunk, and seniors Ryan Hartwig and C.J. Koehler, who played well at both ends of the court.
Hartwig scored six points, and Koehler had five.
Grafton finished with a huge edge in free throws, hitting 23 of 37 attempts to Christian’s 4-for-12.
“We made some changes and started getting stuff to the basket,” McKenna said. “We kept the pressure on Heritage Christian, and it paid off with a lot of free throws.”
The Hawks also used an aggressive 2-3 zone defense that fueled a 9-0 run and kept them in charge, McKenna noted.
A primary focus for Grafton’s defensive effort was holding Josh Banks, Christian’s top player, in check. Banks finished with 10 points.
The Hawks, who play Division 2 basketball, won the tournament by defeating two Division 4 teams. However, McKenna said, both victories came against opponents that provided tough challenges.
“Our kids deserved to win this,” he said. “We play in a tough conference (the North Shore) that has taught us to never take anything for granted.
“I’m really proud of our players. We got a trophy, and now we have to build from here. This is a starting point for us.”
Grafton 70, Milwaukee Salam 21
The Hawks dominated play from start to finish in the tournament semifinals.
Doring equaled Salam’s output by scoring a game-high 21 points, and sophomore guard Jake Wilde had 10.
Eight other Grafton players contributed points, led by center Jon Adamaitis and forward Kevin Collins with nine and eight, respectively.
“Salam has a small, scrappy team that played hard,” McKenna said. “It took discipline on our part to stick with our game plan.”
This week, Grafton resumed play with a nonconference game Tuesday against West Bend East.
The Hawks will begin their NSC schedule with 7:30 p.m. games at Homestead on Friday and at home against Cedarburg on Dec. 14.