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From the beginning of its Jan. 6 game with Port Washington, the Grafton boys basketball team took control with strong defense.

The Black Hawks jumped out to a 10-0 lead and were up 39-16 at halftime. They eventually cruised to a 77-41 triumph that left them right in the middle of the North Shore Conference race.

Grafton improved to 4-1 in the North Shore (8-3 overall) and trailed leader Cedarburg (4-0) by one-half game. As luck would have it, those two teams will meet at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at Grafton in a battle for first place.

"We are approaching that as just another game," Grafton coach Damon James said. "We can't get too high for any one game."

Port Washington slipped to 0-5 in the North Shore and 3-7 overall going into a game at 7:15 p.m. Friday at Germantown.

Grafton was able to jump ahead of Port early in last week's game, starting with the 10-0 run to open the contest.

"We came out with a good defensive mindset and set the tone," James said. "We were able to build a nice cushion, and then a lot of guys played in the second half."

The Hawks put 13 different players in the scorebook, led by Ryan Stachurski with 12 points and Tanner Autey and Ayden Edmundson with 9 points apiece. Jason Patt, Jacob Wilkin, Andy Papcke, Justin Peters and Quinton Riddle each scored 6 points for the Hawks, who connected on 12 3-point field goals.

"We had 13 of 14 score, and a lot of guys contributed, which was good to see," James said.

Port Washington coach Brian Hebein was not pleased with his team's slow start.

"They (the Hawks) jumped out quickly, and we tried to get back into it, but then they started hitting 3-pointers," Hebein said. "They controlled the game from the get-go. In the second half, we tried putting some pressure on them, but they stayed hot from three."

Adam Baierl paced Port with 13 points, followed by Jack Larson with 11 points and Jake Lippe with 7 points.

Both teams played other games last week, with Grafton tipping Messmer, 47-45, on Jan. 7 and Port falling to University School of Milwaukee, 59-52, on Jan. 3.

Papcke won the Messmer game for Grafton with a tip-in putback at the buzzer and finished with 9 points to tie Stachurski and Darrian Langerman. Logan Hilgart led Grafton with 10 points.

Evan Lilly tallied 15 points for Port against USM, with Larson adding 11 points, Baierl 10 and Zach Uselding 8 points. The Pirates were outscored 14-3 at the free-throw line.

"We had an 8-point lead in the second half," Hebein said. "Then we had some turnovers, and they went on a run. We came back within 7 but fell short."

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