Senior guard defies odds, Grove wins 10 straight, earns 1 seed

Jack Pettit fights through traffic earlier this season. (Rick Benavides/SLN)


By Tim Wester

Sports Correspondent

If Union Grove senior point guard Jack Pettit could rent a billboard near his high school, the message would probably be, “I told you so.”

After hearing questions about why Pettit was on the varsity squad his freshman season, the St. Norbert recruit became the Grove’s all-time leading scorer during a 59-34 victory at Racine Lutheran Monday, Feb. 19.

Pettit, who broke Jason Morgan’s mark of 1,132 points set in 1994, helped propel the Broncos to their 10th straight victory. Pettit’s historic night followed the Broncos clinching a tie for the Southern Lakes Conference title with a 64-43 victory at Lake Geneva Badger Friday, Feb. 16.

“It’s a heck of an accomplishment considering as a freshman he only averaged 5 points per game,” said Union Grove coach Dave Pettit, who is also the father of Jack. “It’s a little bit of an exclamation point after people questioned the decision pulling him up to varsity as a freshman.”

Most of the winter has been an exclamation point for the Broncos, who haven’t lost a game since January 9 at Elkhorn. Since then, the Broncos have plowed through the competition on their way to earning a No. 1 seed in the WIAA Division 2 playoffs.

“Our defense has improved over the last four games of the season and will continue to be an important factor in how far we go in the playoffs,” Pettit said. “Sometimes you have off nights offensively, so you need to play good defense to keep you in games.”

The Broncos’ defense was at their best last Monday, holding Racine Lutheran to 0-for-17 on 3-pointers.

“Give our defense credit holding them to 0-for-17 on 3-pointers,” Pettit said. “Most of those shots were contested threes as our guys closed well and communicated well, and they were also physical on their cutters.”

The Broncos held Racine Lutheran to just 12 first half points, and led 24-12 at halftime. The Grove continued to stifle the Lutheran offense in the second half on the way to a 25-point victory.

Luke Hansel led a balanced scoring attack with 13 points, while Jack Pettit and Luke Nelson each had 10 for the Broncos.

The Broncos also had a strong defensive effort in their commanding victory at Lake Geneva Badger.

Sophomore Sam Rampulla led the way with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Pettit had 14, and Jacob Ross chipped in 10.

The Bronco trio helped spur a late first half run to propel the Broncos to a 29-20 halftime lead. Union Grove then broke the game open in the second half, leading by as many as 27 at one point.

“We had a hard time putting the ball in the hole in the first half despite having good looks,” Pettit said. “We started pulling away late in the first half and came out and steadily increased the advantage in the second half as our defensive effort really picked up.”

The Broncos’ defense, which had been a mixture of zone and man-to-man for the most of the season, have found their stride playing man-to-man down the stretch of the season.

“Our kids are playing awesome defense as of late,” Pettit said. “Our last three games we’ve given up 34, 43, and 43, so to hold teams to no more than 43 points the last three games is impressive.”

Pettit’s team appears to be hitting its defensive stride just in time for the playoffs.

The top-seeded Broncos host the Waterford/Fort Atkinson winner in a WIAA Division 2 Regional Semifinal next Friday. A semifinal victory would set up a regional final game against Elkhorn or Wilmot.

“As a top seed you hope to have a favorable bracket, but we have tough games ahead of us,” Pettit said. “If we get Waterford, we beat them by just two points last game, and we’ve also split two games against Elkhorn, so nothing is for certain.”