LOST CREEK -- This was the game Rich Bord had waited five seasons for. It couldn't have come at a better time for Grafton.
Sheena Zbosnik finished with a game-high 19 points and Grafton held South Harrison to 38 percent shooting and only one free throw attempt in a convincing 48-40 victory Thursday night. It was Grafton's first win at South Harrison since Bord helped resurrect the struggling Bearcats program five years ago.
"The difference tonight compared to other nights was we matured, made good decisions," Bord said. "We played hard for four quarters, and most of all we played smart. Now we're right in position in the Big 10. We're in the upper echelon where crazy things can happen."
In possibly its final game without starting guard Heather McDaniel, lost for three weeks to a broken and dislocated finger, Grafton (8-5, 6-2 Big 10) won with defense, timely scoring and a big dose of Zbosnik. Asked to pick up the scoring slack McDaniel left behind, the junior guard converted from the outside and when South Harrison (7-6, 4-4) moved its defense out to contest her, she drove to the lane. Zbosnik and fellow starting guard Julie Bolyard combined for 28 of Grafton's 48 points.
"We knew (Zbosnik) was going to have to step up offensively if we were going to win. Julie also played extremely well tonight," Bord said.
Conversely, in a game coach Joe Johnson called a must win, South Harrison never got untracked offensively. The Hawks never led after taking an 11-9 advantage into the second quarter.
Bobbi Jo Devericks led South Harrison with 14 points, while Carrie Fenstermacher added 11, but South Harrison wasn't able to produce the run it needed.
"Tonight was more us than them," Johnson said. "We didn't come out with a lot of fire. The effort was there, but it's not the effort where we really want it. If we want to get to where we want to go, we have to beat teams like Grafton. We needed this win, and what we did was take a step back tonight."
Despite being outscored from the field, Grafton earned its second consecutive victory by holding an incredible 15-0 advantage at the free throw line. The Bearcats also forced 18 turnovers, many of which were converted into layups.
"That tells the game right there," Johnson said.
Grafton plays host to Preston on Tuesday, while South Harrison entertains Robert C. Byrd.