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Composure paves way for Hawks PDF Print E-mail
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Written by MITCH MAERSCH   
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 17:45

Ability to absorb Hartford’s comeback allows Grafton boys to reverse fortune, get back on winning track in conference

It’s not horseshoes and hand grenades for the Grafton High School boys’ basketball team anymore.
After blowing second-half leads in three straight losses, the Black Hawks hung last Friday night for a 66-63 home win over Hartford.
Up three with 7.3 seconds left in the North Shore Conference game, Hartford called its final timeout to set up a play. Guard Jake Lynch quickly fired up a three-point shot from just right of the top of the key under pressure from junior Jaden Polack.
The ball bounced in and out of the hoop. The Orioles got the rebound but couldn’t set up another three-point attempt fast enough.
“Finally,” Polack said of his thoughts after the game.
BRYSON CLAGUE 1 11 18 4C“We needed that one,” Grafton coach Damon James said.
The Hawks held a 30-23 lead at halftime, but the Orioles bounced back to take a 49-44 lead with 9 minutes, 31 seconds to play.
This time, Grafton didn’t fold. Junior Brad Ward hit a three-pointer, and junior Ayden Edmundson made a steal and layup to tie the game.
The teams tied at 51, 53 and 55 before freshman Bryson Clague drove to the basket, made a shot and got fouled. He hit the free throw to give the Hawks a 58-55 lead with 3:05 to go.
After that, Hartford would only get as close as 60-59.
Clague hit one of two free throws to make it 61-59 with 1:27 to play.
The Hawks handled Hartford’s full-court press and forced the Orioles to foul.  Leading scorer Alex Huibregste made both ends of a bonus with 1:11 left that took the lead to 63-59.
After Oriole Josh Much made two free throws, Clague hit both shots in the double bonus to make it 65-61 with 26 seconds left.

Jadon Melvin hit a shot inside with 16.9 seconds left, and Polack made one of two free throws with 10.8 seconds left to make it 66-63.
“Like I told our kids, this is a character win. We’ve been in those battles the last few games,” James said.
“They’ve done a great job this time, absorbing their run ­— because Hartford is a good team, they’re going to battle and make runs — but then overtaking that with our run and I thought that was progress. This is a character builder for us.”
Huibregste led the Hawks with 21 points on 3-for-6 shooting both from the field and three-point line. He went 6-for-6 on free throws. Clague had 16 points on 3-for-6 from the field and 2-for-5 on threes. Polack added 12.
Ward led the team with six rebounds. Huibregste and Polack each had four assists.
Grafton improved to 2-5 in the North Shore Conference and 3-5 overall. Hartford slipped to 4-2 in the NSC and 4-5 overall.
The Hawks said the key was to not let up.
“I think we just stayed aggressive throughout the second half. I feel like the other games we just laid back. This game we just stayed on the pedal,” Huibregste said.
“In other games, I feel like when we got the lead we just got relaxed, and that allowed the other team to make a run,” Polack said. “But this game we were able to just keep our lead and stay aggressive.”
Grafton missed a fair share of shots in the paint but didn’t just settle for threes.
“I’m just happy they’re making the right read, the right decision, and we’ll get back to finishing,” James said.
The Hawks finished at the free-throw line, making seven of nine in the final 3:05. They made 16 of 20 in the game.
Harftord shot equally well at the line, making 11 of 13.
“That always helps when you make free throws,” James said.
After a winless December, the Hawks are so far undefeated in 2018.
“December was an awful month on the win-loss side but a great month on the growth side,” James said.
This Friday, the Hawks host rival Port Washington (1-5 NSC), the second of the girls-boys doubleheader. Tipoff is at 7:15 p.m. or right after the girls’ game.

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