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 Jason Nihles, Platteville Journal/Fennimore Times
Braden Crubel, Sr., G, River Ridge boys basketball
PATCH GROVE — Thanks to the recent stellar play of junior guard Braden Crubel, the Division 4 #8-ranked River Ridge Timberwolves have been able to overcome the loss of senior big man David Nies.
Nies, who averages 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, has missed the last four games to a knee injury he suffered against Boscobel Jan. 10. But Ridge (15–1, 8–0 SRW) has won four straight in league play without Nies to run its winning streak to 10 games and has taken a two-game lead in the quest for a third-straight SRW title after recent wins over second-place Benton and third-place Potosi.
Crubel matched his season-high with a 30-point outburst in the first game without Nies, a 59–45 win over Benton (11–5, 4–2 SRW) Jan. 13. He made 13 of 20 shots in the game, including all 10 he two from inside the 3-point line. He also grabbed eight rebounds and had four steals. He then scored 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting, with three 3-pointers and two assists in a win over Cassville Jan. 18. Crubel then scored 17 points and overcame an off 5–for-16 shooting night by making 6 of 8 free throw attempts to help the T'wovles rally from a 20–11 halftime deficit in a 57–45 SRW win at Highland last Friday night. The junior sharp-shooter then poured in a game-high 27 points in another comeback win, this time over visiting Potosi, when Ridge rallied from a 29–21 halftime hole to score a key 60–51 win over the Chieftains (6–9, 4–3).
Crubel is averaging a team-high 18 points per game, while shooting 46.4 percent from the field (108 of 233), including 37.6 percent on 3-pointers (47 of 125) and 78.1 percent (25 of 32) at the free throw line. He also averaged 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.2 assists per game. River Ridge will now have four straight non-conference games, before closing out the regular season with four straight SRW games, beginning with a home against Shullsburg Thursday, Feb. 10.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Lily Krahn, Sr., PG, Prairie du Chien girls basketball
Krahn, a D1 Wisconsin recruit, scored a team-high 17 points to lead the Division 3 #3-ranked Blackhawks (16–1, 4–0) to a 64–53 victory over D4 #2-ranked La Crosse Aquinas Tuesday night. It was only the second loss of the season for the 2020–21 D2 3 state runner-up Blugolds (13–2). Krahn also had 24 points and 7 assists in a 72–63 non-conference win over Cuba City last Tuesday, 24 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in a 63–41 win at Lancaster Thursday night and a team-high 18 points on just nine field goal attempts in a 65–23 blowout at Barneveld last Saturday. Krahn is averaging a league-high 20.8 points, 4.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game for the first-place Blackhawks.
Sarah Knowles, Sr., C, Boscobel girls basketball
Knowles posted 18 points, 10 rebounds an four blocks in a 57–44 comeback win at Shullsburg Tuesday, Jan. 18, then posted a monster double–double of 29 points, 19 boards, five blocks and four steals in a 72–47 SWAL win over Iowa–Grant last Thursday night. Knowles then led the second-place Bulldogs (15–3, 7–2 SWAL) to an 82–41 blowout win over Riverdale Tuesday night. Boscobel will host Cuba City (9–6, 5–2) tonight in a battle for second place.
Rachel Miller, Sr., G, Highland girls basketball
Miller scored a game-high 22 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots in a 67–45 win at Potosi/Cassville Monday night. Miller also had a game-high 14 points, six rebounds and four steals to lead the Cardinals (15–2, 5–1 SRW) to a 45–30 win over River Ridge last Thursday night. The D5 #8-ranked Cardinals have a key SRW matchup at first-place D5 #6-ranked Belmont (13–2, 5–0) Friday night at 7:30 p.m.