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
SOUTH WAYNE – Bailey Butler capped her tremendous career at Black Hawk High School with a phenomenal senior season and was recognized for her outstanding performance by being named the 2021 Miss Basketball by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.
The annual award for the top senior girls’ basketball player in the state of Wisconsin is sponsored by JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells.
“It’s unbelievable. It still doesn’t feel real. I never thought I would receive this award. I can’t thank my family, my teammates and my coaches enough. All the practices, games and summer workouts were all worth it. It just goes to show that if you really work hard, your dreams can come true,” said Butler.
Butler, a 5’8” point guard, led the state with a 28.3 points and 7.9 assists per game average this season, while finishing third in the state with 6.2 steals per game and grabbing 7.8 rebounds per game for the 21-1 Warriors, who advanced to the WIAA Division 5 State Tournament for the fourth straight season behind Butler and head coach Michael Flanagan.
“An honor like this almost seems unattainable for a small-school athlete. It really speaks to Bailey’s achievements and the competitive ability she has demonstrated against our opponents over the years and those faced during the summer. She has shown that regardless of division, she is an accomplished player who can do so many things to impact the game,” commented Flanagan.
“Bailey had to do a lot more for us this season for us to be successful, and she rose to the occasion. To draw opponents’ best defenders and/or special defenses all season long and still to produce the type of numbers she did is a testament to her determination, her preparation and her physical ability. Best of all, she did so in a way that elevated others and made everyone around her better. We could not have had the success we did this year as a program without Bailey leading the way.”
Butler joins Barneveld and Nebraska standout Hannah Whitish (2016) as a Miss Basketball selection out of the Six Rivers East Conference.
Butler shot 55 percent from the floor (230-of-416), 76 percent from the free throw line (91-of-120), and connected on 44 percent of her 3-pointers (72-of-165) on offense this season.
During her senior year, she passed former teammate Natalie Leuzinger to become Black Hawk’s all-time leading scorer for basketball (1,960 points) and she topped former Warriors’ standout Jen Wellnitz for the program’s single-season scoring record (623) as well.
“I never dreamt of this happening. I never really thought about being the leader in anything, I was more focused on playing the game and winning with my teammates. Since I was younger, watching my siblings play at state, getting there and trying to win state was all I really wanted to do. It was a really special four years and I wouldn’t change any of it,” noted Butler. “Receiving this award is so special. Without my past and present teammates, this wouldn’t have been possible. I owe a lot of it to them. We just played the game and wanted to win.”
Butler closes her career as the Warriors’ all-time leader in scoring with 1,960 points, steals with 565 and assists with 562. She also pulled down over 500 rebounds in her career finishing with 504 total boards.
“We believe that the most important outcome from being a member of the Black Hawk basketball family is that you leave a better player and person than when you enter. Bailey has certainly done that,” said Flanagan.
“She has put in the time to expand her skill set, and she has honed her understanding of the game. Her voice as a leader has gotten stronger and stronger, and she has remained humble throughout. It has been an honor to coach her. She has set the standard to which future Black Hawk female athletes will aspire. Her achievements in multiple sports speak to her versatility, her determination and her natural ability. This award did not happen in one year– or four years– but over countless hours of hard work when no one else was watching.”
Butler also tied last year’s senior class for all-time victories after guiding the Warriors to a 103-2 record in her career, which included four state tournament appearances and two D5 state trophies. Black Hawk claimed the D5 state title during her sophomore season and the Warriors finished as D5 state runner-ups her freshman season.
“It’s crazy. The seniors never really knew if we would have another chance at playing basketball because of COVID. When we were given the chance to play, we played every game like it was our last because it could have been. It was exciting and memorable because it was my last chance to play as a Black Hawk Warrior with my fellow seniors,” Butler exclaimed.
While her prep career has come to end on the hardwood, Butler will continue her basketball career collegiately at NCAA Division 1 UW-Green Bay in the fall.
“I am beyond excited to start the next chapter of my basketball career at UWGB. Jen (Wellnitz) is a role model to me and seeing her play at UWGB really opened up my eyes and made me think about playing college basketball. Playing at Black Hawk has been such an honor and I can’t wait to play as a Phoenix,” Butler said.
Following the season, Butler was named to the 2021 Wissports.net All-State Tournament team and was selected as the Top Senior Point Guard as part of the WSN Senior Basketball Awards. She was also named to the 2021 WBCA Division 5 All-State First-Team for the fourth straight season, and was selected as the Six Rivers East Player of the Year for the third season in a row.
HONORABLE MENTION: OTHER AREA WBCA GIRLS ALL-STATE SELECTIONS
Lily Krahn, Jr., G, Prairie du Chien — 1st Team (20.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3 apg, 2.8 spg, 58–149 3P), SWC Player of the Year
Olivia Argall, Sr., G, Dodgeville — Honorable Mention (18 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.8 spg, 18 3PM)
Mallory Lindsey, Jr., PG, Mineral Point — 1st Team (11.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.9 spg, 62–165 3P)
Bailey Lutes, Sr., PG, Cuba City — Honorable Mention (12.4 ppg, 7 rpg, 4.8 apg, 2.6 spg), SWAL POY
Kaylee Marty, Sr., G, Black Hawk — 1st Team (15 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 3 spg, 30–86 3P)
Layla Alt, Sr., G/F, Shullsburg — Honorable Mention (11.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.5 spg, 25–83 3P), SRW Co-POY
Rachel Miller, Jr., F, Highland — Honorable Mention (16.3 ppg, 7 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.8 spg, 55–148 3P), SRW Co-POY