Defensive intensity keys Grafton’s wallop at WB West


GRAFTON’S AMBER RADTKE (above left) drove for a basket late in the game at West Bend West on Nov. 22. The bench (above right) cheered on the backups in a 62-29 victory in the Black Hawks’ season and North Shore Conference opener. Photos by Mitch Maersch

By MITCH MAERSCH

Ozaukee Press staff

It wasn’t that the Grafton High School girls’ basketball shut down West Bend West’s offense on the road on Nov. 22.

The Black Hawks barely allowed the Spartans to cross half court in a 62-29 demolition that wasn’t as close as the score shows.

The Hawks started the game with a 15-1 run. West didn’t get its first basket until nearly seven minutes into the first half.

Senior guard Grace Viesselmann pressured any Spartan inbounding the ball, and her teammates blanketed their opponents, forcing a slew of turnovers.

West resorted to throwing bombs over the defense early, and some of those fell short and were intercepted by Hawks.

“Our coaches wanted us to come out hard on defense, and they’ve been wanting me to go for steals a lot and be one of our main defensive people so I just wanted to come out and prove that,” Viesselmann said.

She had a team-high four of the Hawks’ 11 steals but her intensity affected more plays than that, leading to easy turnovers and buckets.

“I think we did a really good job at staying in the gaps and cutting off when they drove,” senior guard Gracie McNabb said.

“This season we’re really priding ourself on our defense, and we’ve been working really hard in practice getting all the concepts down and everything,” junior Sarah Aleknavicius said. “So it was really nice to go out there, and we did everything that we’ve been talking about.”

Coach Matt D’Amato was pleased with the effort.

“We wanted to come out with energy. That was the big thing. We realized execution was going to have some holes because it was the first game. I was really happy with how they responded,” he said.

“We’re used to picking up a lot of fouls reaching. To break that habit and D them up and be solid is really important because I believe we have the help defense that’s going to make the difference. We don’t have a lot of height but we have a very long team and their instincts are very good.”

It was 35-12 at halftime, and it would have been worse if the Hawks had made a few more shots inside.

“We’re making the right passes and seeing people open,” D’Amato said. “We’ll be working on layups and touches around the rim.”

Aleknavicius led nine Hawk scorers with 16 points on 7-for-16 shooting. Marissa Morgan had 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting.

Viesselmann and McNabb each had six points. Natalie Manuel and freshman Amber Radtke each had five.

In the second half, D’Amato emptied his bench, and his starters served as cheerleaders for freshmen and other underclassmen.

“Being a senior, it’s so fun to be close from seniors to freshmen. It’s a great experience to be this close as a team,” McNabb said.

“It’s so much fun when everyone gets to play. It just builds our team chemistry even more,” Viesselmann said.

“You can just really tell we all just enjoy being out there, and we’re really close as a team. We love our freshmen. I think we’ve done a really good job of welcoming them in,” Aleknavicius said.

“It’s fun when everybody’s involved. Trying to get everybody minutes is a problem but it’s going to be a good problem to have,” D’Amato said.

Grafton, 1-0, was to host Franklin on Tuesday, Laconia on Thursday, Dec. 1, and Port Washington at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6.

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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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