HELENA — Add another accomplishment to Dani Bartsch's resume. The Helena Capital senior and Montana Lady Griz commit was named the Gatorade Montana girls basketball player of the year on Thursday.
Bartsch said she woke up early on Thursday morning to check the website where the announcements are made to find her name on the Gatorade player of the year page.
"I actually found out by myself first at 6:30 this morning when I randomly woke up and I just wanted to check the Gatorade website and I was so happy," Bartsch told MTN Sports via text. "My heart was pounding when I was scrolling to see if it was my name under Montana."
As for her initial reaction, Bartsch felt she had to keep it relatively muted given the early hour.
"The first text I made was to my family group chat since it was so early in the morning," said Bartsch.
Bartsch was the leading scorer and rebounder for the Bruins across the 2021 season with an average of 15.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. She also averaged a little more than three assists per game across the season for the Bruins. Though winning the award has been a dream for Bartsch, it hasn't exactly set in just yet.
"I’m ecstatic. Sometimes I’ll forget and someone will congratulate me and I get all excited again," said Bartsch.
Bartsch was one of the key components in the Bruins' repeat championship campaign, putting up 15 points in the 33-31 championship thriller over Missoula Hellgate. While the player of the year award will forever be a special nod to her high school career, without her team she would've been just another player.
"This one is pretty high up, but I definitely think all the state championships are higher up because I like being able to share the award with the team," said Bartsch. "I may never have been able to win this award if it weren’t for such an awesome basketball team this year."
Dani now joins her sister Paige (2018-19 Gatorade Montana volleyball player of the year) as one of the elite athletes to have her work on the court commemorated. While Dani's sad she and her sister will part ways next fall, she's ready to join the Lady Griz in the fall of this year.
"I’m super excited for the future and I think my game will improve a ton once I get to Missoula," she said. "I’m excited for the new coaches and think there is a bunch of potential for me there."