Orlowski’s sharp show, pesky defense carry Grafton to big win in league opener
A talented Cedarburg girls’ basketball team is sure to win plenty of games this season.
But last Friday, the Bulldogs didn’t have an answer for checking the best player of a neighboring rival.
Senior guard Haley Orlowski was sharp from start to finish, scoring 26 points to lead host Grafton to a 46-39 win in the North Shore Conference opener for both squads.
“She’s our go-to player, especially when we have to have a big basket,” Grafton coach Steve Reinhardt said. “She had an outstanding game.”
Orlowski had 14 points in the first half, nearly matching Cedarburg’s entire output as the Black Hawks surged to a 25-15 lead.
In the fourth quarter, she helped seal the outcome with six more points, including two free throws in the closing seconds after the Bulldogs pulled within 44-39.
“Just playing Cedarburg is really big,” Orlowski said of her motivation. “We’re not a real big team, but we’re very fast and have a lot of heart. We play really hard.”
Both teams were picked to be among the conference’s best this season. However, Grafton never trailed in the early showdown, sprinting to a 15-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The run included a pair of three-point baskets by Orlowski and a steady stream of Cedarburg turnovers against Grafton’s aggressive defense.
In a low-scoring third quarter, the Hawks kept the heat on and led by as much as 33-18.
The margin ballooned to 16 points early in the final period before the Bulldogs made an 8-0 run in the final two minutes.
“For us to win, we have to force turnovers,” Reinhardt said. “We’re a blue-collar team that plays up-tempo, man-to-man defense. The team gave 110%.”
Cedarburg showed some fight with a balanced attack in which four players each scored at least seven points. Senior forward Tori Riechers led the way with 12 points.
The Bulldogs stayed within range by going 17-for-23 at the free-throw line compared to Grafton’s 3-for-9. Remarkably, the Hawks didn’t shoot a free throw until the final three minutes.
“We didn’t get a lot of foul calls, but we did a good job of playing through it,” Reinhardt said.
Forward Amanda Hunt had eight points for Grafton, which improved to 2-0 overall. Cedarburg fell to 1-2.
Grafton 43, West Bend East 35
The Hawks outlasted a tough nonconference foe to win their season opener on the road Nov. 26.
Grafton trailed, 8-7, after one quarter but rallied to take a 19-17 lead into halftime and held a 30-26 edge entering the fourth period.
Orlowski scored a game-high 16 points, and Angie Mann added 10.
Erica Koller led East with 15 points.
This week, Grafton faced Racine Park on Tuesday and will resume NSC play by hosting Germantown at 7:30 p.m. Friday. On Dec. 11, the Hawks will travel to Homestead for a 7:30 p.m. contest.
Image Information: CEDARBURG’S TORI RIECHERS found herself surrounded by a swarm of Grafton players, including Amanda Hunt (left) and Sam Smith (right). Pressure defense helped Grafton take control on the way to a 46-39 win. Photos by Sam Arendt