Sierra Grubor came up big at all the important times for the Whitnall girls basketball team in its 68-57 victory over Greenfield on Jan. 6 at Whitnall.
The senior forward tallied a game-high 30 points, connecting on 14 of 17 free throws, and added four rebounds and three assists to lead the Falcons, who notched their fourth straight victory to improve to 7-4 overall and 3-3 in the Woodland Conference East Division.
They stayed one game behind Shorewood (4-2), which Whitnall meets at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at home.
Greenfield fell to 2-4 in the division and 4-7 overall and will take on Cudahy at 7:15 p.m. Friday, also at home.
Grubor comes through
Whenever the Falcons needed a spark in the Greenfield game, Grubor was there to provide it.
In the first half, with Greenfield up 5-4, Grubor scored 7 points to help give the Falcons the lead for good at 16-11. Later in the first half, with the Hawks hanging in at 30-23, she nailed back-to-back 3-point field goals, with the second one bouncing off the rim, up to the top of the backboard and down through the hoop, to make it 36-23.
After the second one, Grubor extended her arms almost in wonderment, much like Michael Jordan did after hitting a series of unlikely 3-pointers in one memorable game.
Finally, late in the second half, with the Hawks creeping back into the contest at 55-47, Grubor hit 7 of 8 at the line to put away the victory for Whitnall.
"She was huge tonight," Whitnall coach Keith Larson said of Grubor. "It's a game where you rely on her a lot."
Greenfield similarly relied heavily on sophomore Ratka Karac, who collected 23 points, including 19 in the second half to help her team stay within range of Whitnall.
"She's been playing great," coach Rob Graetz said. "She's been doing a really nice job on the boards and a nice job offensively for us. She's really hungry. Now we need some of our others to step up that we know are capable of playing better."
Graetz was upset at his team's lackluster defense, which has been a problem in recent weeks.
"Ever since Christmas break, we've really taken a step backward defensively," he said. "It's extremely frustrating; we're trying to find our niche again and figure out where we're at. We've kind of fallen asleep defensively, and I know we're a better team than what we've been demonstrating on the court. We're just not getting it done right now. Hopefully, we can get it together and get it cleaned up this week."
Larson said his team put together a solid effort.
"This is a good win," he said. "It was a hard-fought game. We were lucky that we got the lead at halftime and were able to stretch it out in the second half. A couple of kids stepped up, and we're pleased to walk out with a win."
Jaden Kelley posted 19 points, six rebounds and four steals before fouling out, and point guard Jessie Knackert had six assists and six rebounds for the Falcons, who hit 24 of 30 free throws.
For Greenfield, Morgan Lesieur tallied 10 points, Sophia Valero 8 points and Emma Graetz 6 points.