EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
by Tom Gunnell, Republican Journal/Tri-County Press
Heath Poppy, So., G, Shullsburg boys basketball
Shullsburg sophomore guard Heath Poppy scored 25 points in back-to-back games to lead the Miners to back-to-back victories after snapping a 15-game losing streak. Poppy went off for 16 of his team-high 25 points in the second half of Friday's Six Rivers West game against Cassville to rally the Miners from a three-point halftime deficit to an 83–69 victory over the Comets. Then, the Shullsburg sophomore hit a pair of 3s en route to 12 first-half points, and then went 7-for-7 from the free throw line in the second half to finish with a game-high 25 points in the Miners' 55–43 non-conference win at Argyle on Monday. Poppy also scored a team-high 10 points in a 61–28 loss to the Six Rivers West champion River Ridge Timberwolves last Thursday.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Rex Blaine, Jr., F, Benton boys basketball
Blaine scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the second half– including the last eight points for the Zephyrs over the final five minutes, to lift Benton over the visiting Highland Cardinals 65–63 in Six Rivers West boys’ basketball action at BHS on Feb. 10. The 6’5” junior also came up with several key defensive plays in the second half, the biggest being an interception on a Cardinals’ inbound pass with three seconds remaining that sealed the two-point win for the Zephyrs. He also finished with a team-high nine rebounds and four blocked shots, and was one of four Benton players to record two steals.
Tanner Paulson, Sr., 138 pounds, Belmont/Platteville wrestling
Paulson won the 138-pound regional title at the WIAA Division 2 Prairie du Chien Regional. Paulson (30-12, honorable mention D2) pinned D/BH’s Isaac Crist in 50 seconds and Dodgeville’s Thomas Lundell in 5:23 to earn a spot in the finals, and then defeated PdC’s Drew Hird– who had pinned the Belmont senior earlier in the season– by a score of 7-2 in the finals to earn his first career regional crown and his first sectional berth since his sophomore season.