Grafton’s first-half frenzy finishes foe

Defense drives Plymouth out of the gym as Black Hawks build 41-5 lead

PLYMOUTH’S MCKENNA HOVEY had nowhere to go between the pressure defense of Grafton’s Emily Grisar (left) and Ella Day during a full-court press in the first half in Grafton on Nov. 23. The Black Hawks bolted to a 41-5 lead on their way to a 60-21 victory. Photo by Mitch Maersch
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

There was no stopping the Grafton High School girls’ basketball team on Nov. 23.

And that was just on the defensive end of the court. The Black Hawks’ offense came pretty easily after their overwhelming full-court press and ferocious half-court defense shut down and nearly shut out visiting Plymouth in the first half of a game that wasn’t as close as the 60-21 final.

The Hawks surged to a 41-5 halftime edge that decided the game in 18 minutes.

Sophomore Sarah Aleknavicius hit two threes early, senior Ashley Weir scored eight points on fast breaks in less than four and a half minutes, and senior Ava Wilmanns drained three long balls in just more than a three-minute span at the end of the half.

The Panthers’ five points were two fewer than the number of Hawks who scored in the first half.

Coach Matt D’Amato confirmed that it was the best first half his team has played in his three-year tenure.

“We did a good job rebounding in that first half. To hold them to one shot was really good,” he said. “I know we fouled a lot in this game too, but these fouls were different. They were hustle fouls. I can live with hustle fouls where we’re going for rebounds. That’s the intensity we’re looking for on defense.”

“We’re all motivated. We all have the same goal in mind. We want to do well, and defense is how we’re going to get it done. We know we have to do it as a team so we’ve really been working on that cohesiveness,” senior Ella Day said.

Weir led the eight Hawks who scored with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting, and she had six rebounds and three steals.

“The team was getting steals. We were fast breaking non-stop. It was good,” Weir said.

“This year, the one thing she wants to be known for is the energy she brings. The first three games you can’t ask for anything else,” D’Amato said of Weir.

Wilmanns scored 13 on a perfect night of shooting. She went 4-for-4 from the field, including going 3-for-3 on three-pointers, and 2-for-2 on the free throw line. She chalked up her hot streak to her lucky wrist tape that officials make her wear to cover the wrist band from the state track and field meet that she doesn’t ever want to take off.

“I think it’s helping me play basketball, too. It’s giving me a lot of confidence,” she said.

Hard work during the offseason didn’t hurt either.

“I’ve been working a lot on my threes over the summer, so I think it’s finally translating into the actual season, and I’m really excited about it,” Wilmanns said.

Sophomore guard Savannah James had 11 points and made three steals. Sophomore guard/forward Sarah Aleknavicius scored 10 and had five steals.

The Hawks held the Panthers to 6-for-42  (14.2%) shooting for the game.

The Hawks went to 3-0 and Plymouth went to 1-2.

Grafton opens North Shore Conference play Friday against West Bend West and plays at rival Port Washington Tuesday, Dec. 7.

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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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