Just as the Franklin girls basketball team's upset of Oak Creek in the 2013 WIAA sectional semifinal was a catalyst for the Knights to go out and win this season's state championship, it was also a motivational tool for Saber forward Carly Graverson.
The 5-10 bundle-of-energy Graverson was just a freshman in that 2013 contest and had a breakout effort as her 23 points served as a catalyst for the upset.
She also knew that all-state forward Cassidy Mihalko and several others were taking their leave because of graduation, and if the Sabers were going to stay among the area's elite teams, she and several others were going to have to step up.
Well, that happened, as the Sabers finished a strong 19-6 as Graverson, now a sophomore, earned first-team All-Southeast Conference honors and was recently named to the NOW All-Suburban girls basketball team.
"I think at the beginning of the year, we weren't sure what it was going to be like," Graverson said. "In the end, it worked out pretty well.
"That sectional semifinal game (in 2013) was pretty important. I was a little freshman, and I wasn't sure what I could do at that point, but it showed me that I could play with the big dogs."
Which she has been doing since she started playing the game when she was in third grade.
"It was the Franklin Rec Department, and I just fell in love with it all," she said of basketball.
Graverson's siblings are much older than she is (34 and 30, respectively) and neither played basketball, so it was her Mom who provided the gentle nudge into the sport.
And with that nudge, Graverson set off running, playing on select teams as early as fourth grade. By eighth grade, special things were happening for her and her classmates, as her Franklin team won the state age level championship.
It's a tight-knit group, Graverson said.
"Though we weren't all on varsity this year, we're very close, we'll be there forever," she said.
Coach Tony Kathrens was, needless to say, excited by the prospects of the whole group and its leader Graverson.
"They're some of our strongest players in the program," he said, "and Carly is almost all you can wish for. She just does anything you need her to do. She can defend the post, she can post up taller players and she is just a nonstop competitor.
"It makes a huge difference in our games because she never stops. She just has so many putbacks because she's always moving."
It goes back to Graverson's philosophy, an ideal that all coaches wish all of their athletes would have.
"What's the point of doing anything if you're not going to go 100 percent," she said.
A smart, analytical player, Kathrens sees Graverson, despite her callow age, as a real floor general who is already capable of calling out the correct play in a tough situation.
"When we hit the floor, she mentions the thing that I wanted to say in the locker room but forgot," said Kathrens.
Graverson is also smart enough to know that at 5-10, her future in basketball is not going to be under the basket, though due to the Sabers' chronic lack of the 6-footers that always seem to gravitate to their neighbors in Oak Creek, she has had to carry a lot of the load in terms of post work and rebounding.
"Eventually, I know I'll be a shooting guard or something like that," she said. "It's just a matter of in the long run, fitting my body type into what I can do best."
Which is a great deal right now.
Graverson is also handling the concept that she is the "next big thing" in a long run of excellent Saber basketball players, going all the way back to the late, great Christine Rathke.
"Every time I walk into the gym, I look at her jersey (on the wall)," said Graverson. "I realize I'm playing in the same place, breathing the same air that she did. It blows your mind to think that."
She knows that there will be a lot of talent to surround her next year and that with big graduation losses finally hitting Oak Creek, there will be an opportunity for something better than second place in the Southeast Conference, which has been the Sabers' position the last two seasons.
Franklin hit a glass ceiling this season with the WIAA state champs Knights, losing to them three times, including the campaign-ending sectional semifinal defeat.
"In practice, that thought makes you push all the harder," she said. "Make no mistake, Oak Creek was a really good team this year. I just don't like to lose that's all. They were able to use that game last year (the sectional semifinal) as motivation to get a gold ball (a state title).
"Why can't we?"
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