Grafton alumni meet-and-greet


GRAFTON HIGH SCHOOL alumni Brock Heffner (left) and Alex Huibregtse will face off in Division 1 college basketball on Thursday. Heffner plays for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Huibregtse for Wright State. Photos courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Athletics (left) and Wright State Athletics (above)

By MITCH MAERSCH

Ozaukee Press staff

It’s going to be a special night for Grafton High School basketball Thursday, but it won’t be happening anywhere near Grafton.

About 100 miles north, two top former Black Hawks teammates will meet to compete together for the first time since high school.

Only this time they won’t be teammates. Alex Huibregtse and Brock Heffner will face off as opponents in Division 1 college basketball.

Huibregtse, a 2020 Grafton High grad and former North Shore Conference Player of the Year who plays for Wright State in Dayton, Ohio, is coming to the Resch Center at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where 2021 grad Brock Heffner, who was named to the NSC first team as a senior, plays his home games with the Phoenix.

To say the pair are looking forward to the game is an understatement.

“I’m really excited to play against Brock. It’ll definitely feel a little weird being on the opposing team but it’ll be fun to compete against him. We talk pretty much every day still, keep up with each others’ games and stuff like that,” Huibregtse said.

“I think it’s really special to be able to play against Alex. Ever since we started hooping together freshman year, we’ve been tight to this day. We’ve talked about playing with or against each other at this Division 1 stage and now it’s happening Thursday,” Heffner said.

They’re not the only ones who are stoked for the match-up.

Heffner and Huibregtse’s high school coach, Damon James, stays in touch with both of his former stars. He is going to the game, and he’s bringing the entire Black Hawks basketball team with him.

“That’s pretty special. We’re pretty excited as a program to have two guys play at that level,” he said.

He hopes his players are excited.

“I think they’re looking forward to seeing a couple of guys who have been in their shoes right now as a high school prep player to transition to something on that stage,” he said.

At Grafton, Huibregtse was a dominant offensive force and was named to the NSC first team three times, earning Player of the Year as a senior in 2020, and he was named to the all-state first team.

A 6-feet, 3-inch weapon with ball handling and inside skills, he averaged 24.2 points per game as a senior, leading the league among players who appeared in more than 20 games. He shot 115-for-177 on two-pointers (65%) and 79-for-167 on three-pointers (47.3%). He made 74 of 86 free throws (86%).

He was sixth in the league in rebounding at 7.2 per game and second in assists with 4.5 per game.

He finished with 1,312 career points.

At Wright State, Huibregtse is a redshirt sophomore after missing nearly all of last season with a back injury.

This season, he is averaging 7.3 points  and 2.4 rebounds per game coming off the bench. He is shooting 48% from the field and 37.7% on three-pointers.

Heffner, a 6-7 forward who can shoot inside and outside, was named to the NSC second team as a junior after an injury caused him to miss most of his sophomore season. As a senior in 2021, he was named to the NSC first team. He averaged 21.6 points per game, second in the league, and 9.2 rebounds per game.

Heffner spent a year at the University of Hawaii before transferring to UW-Green Bay, where he is a redshirt sophomore. He is averaging 7.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. He is shooting 41% from the field and 34.6% on three-pointers.

Wright State comes in with a 2-4 record in the Horizon League. The Raiders are 9-8 overall.

The Phoenix are 1-4 in the Horizon League and 2-15 overall.

But for this game, as far as Huibregtse and Heffner are concerned, throw the records out.

“This is gonna for sure be an instant classic regardless of the outcome, and I wish him the best of luck and hope he takes it easy on us — ha ha ha,” Heffner said.

“It’s definitely really cool and unique to have a high school teammate playing in the same conference, so it’ll be exciting to be back in the home state and have a lot of people from Grafton there to support both of us,” Huibregtse said.

For James, it’s rewarding to see players  he helped develop succeed in Division 1 basketball.

“One-hundred percent, that’s what it’s about. Helping guys fulfill their dreams,” he said.

“It doesn’t have to be at that level, but that’s a piece of it.”

The game starts at 7 p.m. and is available to watch on ESPN+.

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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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