EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Bailey Butler, Sr., PG, Black Hawk girls basketball
Black Hawk senior point guard Bailey Butler, a three-time Division 5 1st-team All-State selection and a two-time Six Rivers East Co-Player of the Year, is currently second in the state in scoring average at 30.3 points per game after scoring 30 points or more in each of her first three games this season.
The UW-Green Bay recruit opened the year with a monster game against the Glarner Knights (2–1) on Thursday, Dec. 3, pouring in a career-high 30 points and dishing out 10 assists for a double-double. She fell one steal and four rebounds shy of a quadruple-double finishing the night with nine steals and six boards. She set another career-high a night later with 31 points against Monticello (1–1) on Friday, Dec. 4. She added eight rebounds, eight assists and five steals in that same game against the Ponies. Then hit the 30-point mark again against Platteville on Monday, Dec. 7, scoring 17 of her game-high 30 points in the first half and going 5-for-9 from the free throw line in the second half to hold off the previously unbeaten Hillmen (3–1). The senior also recorded seven rebounds, seven steals and six assists in the win.
“Bailey has an extremely high basketball IQ, so we knew that she would adjust to her new role on this newly-formed team,” said Black Hawk head coach Michael Flanagan. "She has a keen sense in what our team needs from her for us to be collectively successful, and she has accordingly been more aggressive and more vocal. She is the quintessential point guard."
Black Hawk has now won 57 straight games, and 85 of its 86 games over the last three-plus years with Butler in the lineup. The Warriors ran off 28 straight wins three years ago before losing in the 2018 WIAA D5 state championship game to Bangor, 39–26. Black Hawk then went a perfect 28–0 a year later to claim the D5 state championship and went a perfect 26–0 a year ago to reach a third straight state tournament, before COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the tournament less than nine hours before the Warriors were set to tip-off against Wausau Catholic Newman in a D5 state semifinal game March 13.
Butler is averaging 30.3 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 7 steals per game so far.
“Bailey had to work for her points for the most part [Monday night],” said Platteville head coach Brandon Temperly. “She made some of her shots with our girls draped all over her. You can tell that she is at a level where she is playing chess while others are playing checkers. Her work in the weight room was evident as well. We have girls that are capable of that sort of success too if we continue to put in the work on the court and off.”
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Madison Couey, Sr., G, Riverdale girls basketball
Couey is off to a sensational start to her senior year, averaging a SWAL-best 22.5 points per game for the 3-1 Chieftains. She scored a game-high 33 points in Riverdale's season-opening 68–18 win over Ithaca on Nov. 24, then scored a game-high 20 in the Chieftains' 58–43 win at Boscobel last Friday. After a 10-point game in a 57–50 loss at Hillsboro Saturday night, Couey erupted for a game-high 27 points in a 66–60 win at Richland Center Tuesday night.
Hayden Knapp, Sr., G, Lancaster boys basketball
Knapp pumped in a career-high 28 points on a array of slashing layups and a strong night at the free throw line (9 of 11), and made the eventually game-winning basket with less than a minute to play to lead the Flying Arrows (2–0) to 52–50 victory over visiting Southwestern Saturday night at Lancaster High School. He also had five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Adam Larson, Sr., F, Fennimore boys basketball
Larson scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked five shots to lead the host Golden Eagles (2–0) to a 60–53 victory over visiting Southwestern last Thursday night. He then posted a monster double–double of 32 points, 10 boards, four steals and three dunks, and made 14 of 18 free throws to lead Fennimore to a dominating 58–44 win at Boscobel Tuesday night.
Tyler Rizner, Jr., Richland Center boys basketball
Rizner scored a team-high 17 points, grabbed six rebounds and passed out five assists to lead the Hornets (2–1) to a 71–55 non-conference victory over New Lisbon in last Thursday's season opener. He then poured in a game-high 25 points and had four steals in a 66–39 victory over Hillsboro Saturday night. He also score a game-high 22 points in a wild 91–86 double overtime loss at New Glarus Tuesday night.