EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Josie Nies, Fr., PG, Platteville girls basketball
Josie Nies is a member of Platteville’s heralded freshman class that has led the Hillmen to a second straight Southwest Wisconsin Conference, but at times this year has been overshadow by classmate Sami Martin and junior Skye Digman. But last week Nies rose to the occasion in Platteville’s biggest game of the year to date.
Just two nights after scoring a career-high 14 points in a 63–46 WIAA Division 3 regional semifinal victory over River Valley, Nies played her best game of the year. The freshman point guard made four first-half 3-pointers without a miss and erupted for a career-high 20 points and passed out six assists as Platteville hammered SWC rival and 10th-ranked Richland Center (20–3) 60–44 in a D3 regional championship game Monday night.
Nies made a layup a minute into the game, then buried her first triple on an inbound play to tie the game at 5–5 and erase the Hornets’ final lead of the night. Martin added a pair of free throws on the next possession, junior Rachel Bailie converted a three-point play moment later and junior Skye Digman scored in the post on a nifty feed from Nies the ensuing Hillmen possession.
Then, Nies buried back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Platteville lead to 21–7 with 11:46 left in the half, just moments after Digman went to the bench with her second foul. Nies hit a stepback 3-pointer with two minutes left in the half, then assisted on a Martin layup and set up Martin’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave the Hillmen a comfortable 35–20 halftime cushion.
“Josie played her best game of the season with the obvious 20 points but she also made good decisions with the ball and defended well,” said Platteville head coach Brandon Temperly. “One of the best qualities our team has is we love to win.
We have girls at many positions that are capable of scoring big numbers and we have girls that enjoy playing tough defense. Each night we have girls ready to step up and score if they have a mismatch. [Monday night] happened to be Josie’s night but other girls will be ready when called upon.”
Nies, who averages 7.6 points and a team-high 4.5 assists per game, will lead Platteville against top-seeded Wisconsin Dells (21–3) in a D3 sectional semifinal tonight at Baraboo High School.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Cole Crubel, Fr., G, River Ridge boys basketball
Crubel matched a career-high with 32 points and missed just one shot in River Ridge’s 64–53 WIAA Division 5 regional quarterfinal victory over 11th-seeded Southwestern Tuesday night. Crubel also scored 10 points as Ridge rallied from a 20-point deficit with eight mintues left in regulation to defeat Highland 62–55 in overtime in last Thursday’s regular season finale. Crubel and the Timberwolves will get another crack at the Cardinals in Friday’s WIAA D5 regional semifinal at Highland.
Grace Hammermeister, Sr., Platteville/Belmont/Lancaster gymnastics
The Platteville senior earned her fourth straight trip to the WIAA individual state gymnastics championships with top-5 finishes in the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise at last Thursday’s D2 Mount Horeb Sectional. Hammermeister won the sectional title on the beam (9.25), finished second on the floor (9.45) and placed fifth in the all-around (34.275).
Brittney Kruser, Sr., and Kelsie Goffinet, Jr., Southwestern/Benton/Cuba City gymnastics
Kruser, a senior from Southwestern, and Goffinet, a junior from Benton, both qualified for Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 individual state gymnastics meet with top-five performances at last Thursday’s D2 Mount Horeb Sectional. Kruser placed third in the floor exercise (8.975) and fifth on the uneven bars (8.275) to earn her first trip to the individual state meet. Meanwhile, Goffinet will be competing in all four events as well as the all-around. Goffinet won the sectional title on the bars (8.4), place second in the all-around (35.2) and the beam (9.175), fourth on the vault (8.7) and fifth on the floor (8.925).
Brianna Leahy, Jr., C, Shullsburg girls basketball
Leahy topped the 1,000-point milestone for her career after matching her career-high with 30 points on Saturday night to lead the fifth-ranked Miners (21–3) to the program’s first regional title since 2013 with a 55–40 victory over Benton. Leahy also grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked five shots in the win. Leahy is just the fourth player in Shullsburg history to reach the 1,000-point total and is just the second junior to do so, joining Crystal Swigart who holds the school record with 1,441 points. Leahy and the top-seeded Miners will face second-seeded Riverdale (21–4) in tonight’s D5 sectional semifinal at Mineral Point High School at 7 p.m.
Kathleen Mathias, So., G, Darlington girls basketball
Mathias scored a team-high 13 points to lead a balanced attack as Darlington upset fourth-ranked and top-seeded Wisconsin Heights (22–2) 54–47 Monday night to capture the program’s first regional title since 2011. Mathias also scored 21 points, 13 in the second half, of Darlington’s 83–65 regional semifinal victory over Belleville last Friday night.
Justin Tollefsen, Sr., 145, and Trevor Wanek, So., 126, Fennimore wrestling
Tollefsen (45–6) defeated Athens senior Austin Engel to win the WIAA Division 3 145-pound championship on Saturday night at the Kohl Center in Madison. Wanek (39–10) defeated Cochrane–Fountain City sophomore Max Dascher to win the D3 126-pound title. Tollefsen and Wanek became the fifth and sixth individual state champions in Fennimore history.