A LOOSE BALL in a hard-fought North Shore Conference game last Friday sparked a scramble between Grafton’s C.J. Koehler and Port Washington’s Sawyer Mosley (left) and Joey Burbach.
Photo by Sam Arendt
Kennedy’s 3-pointer rescues Port boys from upset-minded Grafton in error-filled tussle
It’s not often a basketball team can miss 10 fourth-quarter free throws and still end up smiling about a one-point victory.
Number the Port Washington boys’ squad among the chosen few.
Surviving a hard-fought but ragged game marred by turnovers and errant shots, the Pirates outlasted upset-minded Grafton, 47-46, in North Shore Conference play last Friday.
Shane Kennedy’s three-point basket with 46 seconds left rescued Port, which trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half before launching a slow, steady rally that persisted through a few detours.
Host Grafton, which appeared headed for its first conference win since 2007, led most of the way before faltering in the closing minutes. However, the Black Hawks still held a 46-44 edge on a basket by Scotty Tyler with 1:30 to play.
After taking a timeout, Port ran the clock down before Kennedy got the ball at the top of the key. When the Hawks’ defense sagged off him, the senior forward launched a shot from behind the arc that swished.
“We were trying to run a pick-and-roll set, and (Grafton) doubled down on it, which left me open,” said Kennedy, who scored 10 of his team-high 12 points in the second half.
“It wasn’t something I was looking for, but I knew I could take it if it was there.”
In the frantic seconds that remained, Grafton missed a shot and turned the ball over on two possessions. However, Port kept the door open when Kennedy and Luke Schueller each missed a pair of free throws.
After grabbing a rebound on the Pirates’ last miss, the Hawks raced up court and got the ball to forward Ryan Hartwig, whose shot from the left corner bounced off the rim with two seconds left. When the ball was deflected out of bounds, the Pirates regained possession and ran out the clock.
The Pirates survived despite shooting just 54% at the free-throw line (14 of 26) for the game, including an 8-for-18 effort in the final period.
Port coach John Bunyan, whose team improved its NSC record to 4-3, was impressed with Grafton’s determined effort. But he was also happy to see the Pirates fight back after a poor first half in which they trailed, 21-17, after committing 15 turnovers.
“We were really struggling offensively and didn’t get anything going until the third quarter,” Bunyan said. “Grafton hit some big shots, and we were careless with the ball.
“But we found a way to pull it out at the end.”
The Hawks, who fell to 0-6 in the conference, put the heat on Port when they scored the first eight points of the third quarter to go up, 29-17. Hartwig and Tyler, who led both teams with 13 points, each hit three-point baskets during the run.
The Pirates answered with a 12-3 flurry of their own before the end of the third period. Guard Marcus Lackovic’s three-point basket in the closing seconds cut Grafton’s lead to 32-29 heading into the final eight minutes.
The Hawks rebuilt the margin to 43-36 midway through the fourth quarter. But Schueller scored four points during a Port rally capped by a Kyle Rismeyer tip-in that tied the game at 44-44 with 1:50 left.
“We were in control and let it get away,” Grafton coach Kevin McKenna said. “We played hard, but we didn’t make free throws and didn’t protect the ball.”
McKenna was pleased with his team’s defense in the first half, when it used a zone anchored by the 6-foot-5-inch Tyler and 6-8 Jon Adamaitis to control the interior.
“Our size bothered Port, and we were able to take Kennedy out of the game,” he said. “But we also got in foul trouble, which screwed up our player rotation. We had to change things, and that helped Port get back in the game.”
The Hawks shot 58% at the foul line (11 of 19), with seven of their misses coming in the second half.
Jake Wilde scored 12 points for Grafton, including seven in the fourth quarter.
Sawyer Mosley had 11 points for Port, and Rismeyer and Joey Burbach added eight and seven, respectively.
The Pirates’ win was their third in the last four games and sets the stage for a 7:30 p.m. rematch with conference leader Germantown this Friday in Port. The same night, Grafton will host Homestead at 7 p.m.
On Feb. 1, the Hawks will travel to Cedarburg for a 7:30 p.m. game as part of a coed varsity doubleheader. Port will host Nicolet at the same time.