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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Brayden Johnson
Senior point guard leads Panthers to River Ridge tournament title
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Iowa-Grant senior Brayden Johnson scored 40 points and passed out 12 assists in a pair of blowout victories to lead the Panthers to the championship of the River Ridge Holiday Tournament last Wednesday.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.

Brayden Johnson, sr., Iowa­Grant boys basketball

     The Panthers’ point guard scored 40 points and passed out 12 assists in a pair of blow out wins to lead Iowa–Grant to the championship of the River Ridge Holiday Tournament on Wednesday, Dec. 30. Then Johnson scored a game-high 24 points in a 65–56 SWAL win at Boscobel on Tuesday night. He is this week's Mast Water Technolgy Athlete of the Week.

     Johnson scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half and also assisted on nine baskets in the Panthers’ 60–41 semifinal victory over River Ridge (Ill.). Later in the day, the speedy senior scored a game-high 25 points and had five rebounds and three assists in I–G’s 69–48 championship game victory over Albany. Johnson made six of his nine field goals in the second half as the Panthers dominated the final 18 minutes of play, 39–22, to pull away for the 21-point win.

     “Brayden is a relentless competitor who really likes the big moments,” said Iowa–Grant head coach Toby Tripalin. “He is one of the toughest competitors I’ve been around, he is a team leader and gets after it every moment. In the championship game, he took over and really forced the pace and looked to exploit their transition defense.”

     Johnson and leading scorer Isaac Anderson have led the Panthers to an 8–1 overall record, including an 4–0 start in the SWAL. Iowa–Grant has quickly become a contender to win the conference title. I–G will travel to Fennimore (5–4, 2–2 SWAL) Thursday night.



Ben Burkholder, sr., Cuba City boys basketball

     The all-conference forward has a string of five straight double-doubles leading the Cubans to a 7–3 record and a 3–1 start in SWAL play. Burkholder had 22 points and 16 rebounds in Cuba's 65–55 win over Brodhead during the Cuba City Classic semifinal round on Tuesday, Dec. 29, and he added 24 points and 16 boards in an 83–76 win over Salam to take the title on Tuesday evening. He then tallied 18 points and 12 rebounds in a 55–51 loss to Columbus at the JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells on Saturday, and posted 23 points and 14 rebounds in Cuba's 73–31 SWAL win over Fennimore on Tuesday. 


Sawyer Sarbacker, jr., Iowa–Grant/Highland wrestling

     The junior went 8–1 over the course of two days to place third out of 40 wrestlers at 113 pounds at the 57-team Bi-State Classic last Tuesday and Wednesday at the La Crosse Civic Center. Sarbacker, a 2015 state qualifier, is now 22–2 overall.


Claire Tashner, sr., Platteville girls basketball

     The senior guard scored 42 points in three games last week, including a season-high 18 poins in Saturday’s 66–39 non-conference victory over Bellevue Marquette on Saturday. Tashner also scored 17 points in a 63–50 win over Madison East last Tuesday in the semifinal round of the Barneveld Holiday Tournament. She also scored nine points, all in the first half of Platteville’s 68–41 victory at Iowa–Grant. Platteville is off to a 9­–2 start, including 3–0 in the SWC.


Cheyenne Udlehoven, sr., Fennimore girls basketball

     The senior guard scored a game-high 27 points and had eight steals in Fennimore’s 65–27 win over Wonewoc–Center on Dec. 29. Udelhoven and the Golden Eagles have now won four of their last five games after an 0–4 start.


Hunter Matye, jr., Shullsburg boys basketball

     Matye scord a team-high 17 points in last Wednesday’s championship game of the Benton Mike Alexander Tournament to lead the Miners to a 55–52 victory over Scales Mound (Ill.). The 6-foot-5 forward also scored a game-high 24 points in Tuesday’s 57–51 semifinal victory over Southwestern.