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Grafton girls thump Nicolet PDF Print E-mail
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Written by MITCH MAERSCH   
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 20:12

Strong defense, big run to start 2nd half put Hawks in command of NSC game

Sophomore Halena Gehrke hit a free throw for the Grafton girls’ 16th point with nearly six minutes left in the first half last Friday against Nicolet.
The visiting Knights would only score 16 for the entire game.
The Black Hawks destroyed Nicolet, 58-16, and earned a running clock in the second half  as they improved to 5-2 in the Big East Conference.
All 10 Black Hawks scored, led by star junior guard Hannah Belanger’s 16 points, which gave her 1,000 for her career.
Also for Grafton, Lexi Hilgart scored eight, Julia Place seven and Sarah Schmitz, Gehrke and Ava Pedersen five each.
The Hawks’ defense went on a tear, tipping passes and only allowing the Knights one shot before rebounding and going back on the attack.
Up 26-11 at halftime, Grafton went on a 14-0 run in the first 7:29 of the second half to turn a big lead into a blowout.
“I told the girls we need to create our own energy. We’re at home. We need to come out and go at it hard early and just set the tone,” Grafton coach Mike Grzesiak said.
Grafton girls hoops Ruona 12 21 17 4CThe Hawks picked up the intensity after a slow start. After Nicolet tied the game at 7-7 at the 11:46 mark, Grafton went on a 19-2 run to close out the half.
The first 18 minutes featured a balanced attack. Place hit two three-pointers, Hilgart and Gehrke scored five each and Belanger scored four.
Nicolet’s outside shooting went cold, and the Hawks’ defense tightened more as time went on.
“Our defense creates our offense a lot. I’m a defensive-minded coach. The girls are buying in to defense,” Grzesiak said.

“When we play up the line — and we have the athletes to do it — and we’re capable of getting in passing lanes and tipping balls away, I think we’re a much better team.”
It didn’t help that the Knights lost starting guard Maya Fields to injury early in the second half, but Grafton was already pulling away. The Hawks outscored Nicolet, 32-5, after intermission.
“I know in practice this week coach Mike really stressed the importance of getting up the line and pressuring the ball,” Belanger said.
The Hawks passed the ball well against Nicolet’s 1-3-1 zone and worked to get open shots or penetration.
“We were very, very patient. As long as we don’t play like our hair’s on fire, we’re a much, much better basketball team,” Grzesiak said.
It was a bounceback game for the Hawks, who lost, 41-31, at Whitefish Bay (3-3 NSC) on Dec. 12. Grafton was down, 20-10, at halftime. Belanger scored 12. Block, Schmitz and Hilgart each scored six.
Ellie Clements scored 20 for Bay, including going 7-for-7 at the free-throw line.
This week, Grafton (6-2 overall) was to play at Cedarburg (4-2 NSC) on Tuesday and will then face nonconference foe Evansville in Wisconsin Dells on Dec. 28.

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