Black Hawks’ basketball bond:

GRAFTON BASKETBALL COACH DAMON JAMES caught up with former star players Alex Huibregtse (top left) and Brock Heffner (top right) when Wright State played at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay last Thursday. (Photo below) Heffner posed with the Grafton basketball team.



Ozaukee Press staff

Last Thursday’s college basketball game between visiting Wright State and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay was a rout but still an unforgettable experience without a doubt.

Grafton alumnus and Wright State guard Alex Huibregtse took on fellow Black Hawk alum and UW-Green Bay forward Brock Heffner. It was the first time the two competed against each other, and it was in Division 1 college athletics.

A contingent of the Grafton community came to see the match-up in person — the radio broadcast even mentioned it — including the pair’s former coach Damon James, who brought his entire team to the game.

That included senior Bennett Hildebrand, who missed playing with Huibregtse as a freshman due to an injury but remembers playing with Heffner.

“It was nice to see how much of a player he’s grown into in college,” Hildebrand said.

It was evident that Huibregtse, a 2020 grad and former North Shore Conference Player of the Year, and Heffner, a 2021 grad who was named to the NSC first team as a senior, remembered where they came from.

“It was really nice to see how they still respect coach James. He was the first person they both talked to,” Hildebrand said.

“They were still nice to all of us. They weren’t too cool for us.”

“That was awesome. The game in itself was lopsided, but it was a great experience for our team to see, and that’s just a blessing,” James said.

“It was great catching up with coach James and the kids,” Huibregtse said. “I’m glad they made it to see what a Division 1 game is like with the speed and physicality. I hope that they were watching and trying to learn a few things from it.”

Wright State took a 42-33 halftime lead and won, 99-67. Wright State forward Brandon Noel was the star, scoring 32 points on 14-for-17 shooting and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Huibregtse had nine points on 3-for-4 shooting, going 2-for-3 on three-pointers and 1-for-2 on free throws. He had two steals, one rebound and one assist.

Heffner had 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting, going 2-for-7 on three-pointers, and three rebounds.

“It was a great experience playing against Brock. It was fun to be out there at the same time as him,” Huibregtse said.

Heffner, said, “It was a great opportunity to play against Alex, and it’s always good seeing coach James and the team.”

“They were on the floor a good amount,” James said. “Just for (our team) to see, like, a couple of years ago they were practicing on this same floor going through the same heartache and now they’re playing at that level. It was awesome, a great experience.”

James has a couple of players who may join his former stars in Division 1. Junior Michael McNabb Jr. already has Division 1 offers, and sophomore Juan Guererro Hernandez Jr. has one with more expected to come.

McNabb is friends with Huibregtse and Heffner, and he talks to them weekly.

“It was crazy to see them on that kind of stage playing against each other. It was awesome to see,” he said.

“I remember being the kid that used to watch them growing up, and they were the ones I’d talk to and want to be like all the time. It’s really cool to kind of see it come full circle and them living out their dreams and inspiring me to be my best and give my everything and my dreams will come true too.”

McNabb hopes he can do what two of his heroes did.

“From their example I’m trying to set the example for the next generation coming after me,” he said.

Huibregtse and Heffner meet again on Saturday, Jan. 28, when the Phoenix travel to Dayton, Ohio, to face Wright State in the Tigers’ home stadium.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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