Sierra Grubor reached the 1,000-point mark for her career on Jan. 13, and her Whitnall girls basketball team moved into first place in the Woodland Conference East Division.

Not a bad night for the Falcons, who topped Shorewood, 45-42, in front of a home crowd.

Grubor tallied 22 points on the evening to move her career total to 1,008 points. The four-year starter is believed to be the first girls player in school history to surpass the 1,000-point mark.

"I am completely honored," Grubor said. "This means a lot to me. I couldn't have done it without my teammates, and I am thankful to coach (Keith) Larson for giving me the opportunity to start as a freshman."

Grubor versatile

Larson said there are many keys to Grubor's success.

"She has the natural ability, and she puts a lot of time into her game," the coach said. "She understands the game well, and she is a versatile player. She can play inside or outside. In the last few games, I think she has had 10 3-point shots (six in two games last week), and she can drive and get to the line. She is a difficult cover for any opponent."

Larson said as of last week, Grubor was third in the state (all divisions) in made free throws.

"I enjoy driving to the basket, drawing the contact and getting the free throws," Grubor said, "and I have started to shoot the 3-pointer more lately."

She has made a verbal commitment to attend and play for the University of Wisconsin-Stout next season and plans to major in business.

Grubor has scored 153 points in the Falcons' last six games, and her team has won all six to move into first place in a tightly-bunched Woodland East. Whitnall is 4-3 in the division, leading defending champion Shorewood and preseason favorite Cudahy (4-4) and South Milwaukee (3-4).

"I think it is going to be this way (tight) with those four teams all the way," Larson said.

Interestingly, the Falcons' next two games are with their pursuers. They meet South Milwaukee at home at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, and are at Cudahy at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Not long ago, Whitnall was struggling at 3-4 overall and 0-3 in the Woodland, but the Falcons posted a big victory over Cudahy and have not lost since.

"I think it has been a group effort," Larson said of the surge. "Sierra has obviously been a focal point, but other players have stepped up. (Jessie) Knackert is doing a great job of handling the ball, and she usually helps stop the other team's top player. She is an unsung hero."

Pep talk

Grubor said she and the team's other seniors (Knackert, Alexis Navarrette, Sam Benzinger, Jaden Kelley and Abby Franckowiak) spoke to the younger players after Whitnall's three-game losing streak in December.

"We just said, this is it for us (the seniors); we need to make a statement and go out and win a conference championship," Grubor recalled.

The Falcons' latest victory, over Shorewood last week, did not come easily.

They were up 26-22 at the half, but the Greyhounds went on a run at the start of the second half to go ahead by 6 points. The lead went back and forth the rest of the way, and with Whitnall up, 43-42, Knackert hit a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left to make it 45-42.

Shorewood got the ball downcourt and fired up a 3-pointer with 2 seconds remaining that banked off the rim.

Grubor also collected four assists and two steals on the evening, with Kelley tallying 13 points and two steals; Miranda Bass five rebounds; Kathryn Bay four rebounds; and Knackert six assists.

Whitnall downed Nicolet, 66-38, on Jan. 10 behind 32 points from Grubor, 14 by Kelley and 6 by Helen Smasal.