EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Braden Nies, Sr., PG, Platteville boys basketball
NIes averaged 20 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3 assists and made 19 of 23 free throws (82.6 percent) in two games to lead Platteville to its first regional title in 20 years. Nies also played a key role in holding Southwest Wisconsin Conference Player of the Year and Prairie du Chien leading scorer Chas Sagedahl to just five points in a 52–38 upset of the fourth-ranked Blackhawks (21–3) in last Saturday night’s WIAA Division 3 regional final at Prairie du Chien High School.
Nies scored a game-high 27 points, on 7 of 11 shooting, and had four rebounds and three assists in Platteville’s 74–58 victory over fifth-seeded Dodgeville in last Friday’s regional semifinal victory. Nies made a key 3-pointer late in the second half to give the Hillmen a 57–49 lead, then made 9 of 10 from the free throw line in the final two minutes to close out the 16-point victory. Saturday at Prairie du Chien, the two-time first-team All–SWC selection, played all 36 minutes, while taking turns guarding Sagedahl and finished with 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and just two turnovers against the Blackhawks’ constant pressure and changing defenses. He was also clutch at the free throw line making 7 of 9 attempts in the game, as the Hillmen closed out the game by making 16 of 19 from the line as a team.
Nies and the Hillmen will face second-seeded Adams–Friendship in a WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal tonight at Richland Center at 7 p.m. Nies is averaging 15.3 points, 4 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Brianna Leahy, Jr., C, Shullsburg girls basketball
Leahy had 19 points and 15 rebounds to record her 18th double–double of the season, and added seven blocks to lead the Miners to a 43–34 WIAA Division 5 sectional semifinal victory over Riverdale last Thursday night. Two days later, Leahy finished with 11 points in the Miners’ season-ending 63–49 sectional final loss to Bangor on Saturday.
Grace Hammermeister, Sr., Platteville/Belmont/Lancaster gymnastics
The Platteville senior capped her fourth straight trip to the WIAA individual state gymnastics championships with a pair of fourth-place finishes in the balance beam and floor exercise, and also finished 12th in Division 2 in the all-around last Saturday at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School.
Hunter Matye, Sr., G, Shullsburg boys basketball
Shullsburg’s senior point guard scored 53 points in three victories last week to lead the Miners to a WIAA Division 5 regional title. Matye scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half as Shullsburg rallied to defeat conference rival Highland 55–51 in Saturday’s night’s regional final. Matye and the Miners will face top-seeded and undefeated Seneca (24–0) tonight at 7 p.m. at Reedsburg High School.
Jared Payne, So., G, Seneca boys basketball
The sophomore standout averaged 15.3 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in three Seneca wins last week to lead the Indians to a WIAA Division 5 regional title. Payne had 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a 68–40 regional final victory over Potosi last Saturday night. He had 12 points, seven assists and seven boards in a 66–44 victory over North Crawford on Friday, and opened the playoffs with a game-high 22 points in a 90–26 win over Belmont last Tuesday night.
Justin Tollefson, Sr., Fennimore wrestling
The 145-pounds WIAA Division 3 145-pound champion finished his season and career with two more pinfall victories at last Saturday’s WIAA team state championships in Madison. Tollefson (42–6) helped the Golden Eagles defeat Spring Valley/Elmwood 54–18 in the D3 semifinals, but his pin wasn’t enough in a 49–13 loss to Stratford in the D3 championship dual.
Alex Udelhofen, Jr., Potosi boys basketball
Udelhofen averaged 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3 steals in three playoff games to lead the Chieftains to the WIAA Division 5 regional final before closing the season with a loss to second-ranked and unbeaten Seneca. Udelhofen scored a team-high 20 points in the loss to the mighty Indians last Saturday night. He had 16 points, five rebounds, six steals and a breakaway dunk in Potosi’s 93–63 opening round win over La Farge on Feb. 28.