In its first game since the death of teammate Josh Davis-Joiner, the Grafton boys basketball team was met on Friday with support rather than the typical rivalry that fills the Port Washington High School gymnasium when the two teams meet.
In memory of the 17-year-old Grafton High School senior, who died during basketball practice Jan. 16, the Port Washington audience showed up dressed in the competitor's color: orange.
"We've been really pleased with how Port Washington supported us during that game," Grafton High School Principal Ken McCormick said. "That game was only part of what was going on that night so it was very nice to see both of those communities supporting the young men out there."
Port Washington High School Principal Eric Burke said the idea to honor Davis-Joiner came from the kids, who suggested to Athletic Director Thad Gabrielse that the student body do something at the game.
As people entered the high school gym Friday night, basketball stickers with Davis-Joiner's number (No. 32) on it were handed out, Burke said. The student section wore orange, cheerleaders wore orange and the players from both teams stood together during the national anthem.
Video on WTMJ4 illustrates the support of the Port Washington High School cheerleaders, players and audience members at Friday night's game.
"We talk about Character Counts in the school district, I think it’s a good example to show community members and also our younger students a real example of what we’re talking about," Burke said. "It was a really good game ... we’re rivals in many ways for a lot of sports, but (they came together that night)."
Davis-Joiner's funeral was Saturday. At Grafton's home game Tuesday, the whole Grafton team wore Davis-Joiner's number on their backs, number 32. Fox6Now video captures the moments at Tuesday night's game.
Grafton parents sent a number of letters to Port Washington-Saukville School District staff thanking the students for their actions on Friday night:
As a parent of a Grafton Varsity girl player I was in attendance last night at the double header Girls/Boys Varsity game with Grafton.
I want to commend your students, players, staff, and community for showing so much compassion in such a difficult situation. From your students and cheerleaders wearing orange to the respect your players showed on the court after the game, it is a tribute to the values in your school and community.
A Proud Grafton BlackHawk Parent
Thank you for the support and sportsmanship Port Washington showed in hosting the basketball games Friday night. It was a very difficult week for our school and, in particular, our boys team. Your players and team were understanding of the pain our team was in and supported them. Your coach, players and fans applause at the end of the game and the teams attendance at the visitation on Saturday was truly appreciated. Your fans choice to wear orange and black in support of a student at another school demonstrated true sportsmanship and represents everything that is right about high school athletics and the North Shore Conference.
Please pass on my thanks to your coach, team, fans and school.
I would like to commend your boys basketball team and your student body as a whole for the class and compassion that they showed toward our team and community on Friday night. The sight of your team standing with ours and clapping after the game was such a great example of sportsmanship. I am sure it was a difficult night for your boys as well. It was extremely thoughtful of the team to come to the services yesterday. I have always felt that the role of athletics is to help develop young men and women of character and you are doing a great job. Thank you to you and your staffs.
I am a Black Hawk's varsity basketball mom. I was at Friday night's game.
You all need to be commended for your kindness and consideration to all of us at GHS. It was especially touching to see your students wearing our colors to show their support to Josh's family, teammates & all of the GHS family. Thank you!
"Our staff (most notably Thad Gabrielse-Athletic Director) and students did all we could to make the best out of a very difficult situation with the death of a GHS student athlete last week," Burke said in an e-mail.
Grafton school officials attempted to help Davis-Joiner — who likely died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle thickens, often leading to sudden cardiac arrest, according to WTMJ4 — by using a defibrillator that was at the school due to efforts in the memory of Whitefish Bay student Adam Lemel, .
- Read: Thirteen years later, prepare for cardiac arrest cases by showing staff and students how to recognize warning signs, perform CPR, and use defibrillators.
Do you have photos from Friday night's game at Port Washington? Please add them to this story or e-mail Lyssa.Beyer@patch.com.