Since he began attending Grand Junction High School, one of Blaine Butler’s goals has been to play his way into being an athlete at the college level.
Those aspirations involve the baseball diamond for the junior. The way he’s been playing on the basketball court this season, however, he could end up with options when the time comes.
“I’m more of a baseball guy, but if I can find a way to be a double-sport athlete in college, I’ll take it,” Butler said.
In his first season at the varsity level in baseball, Butler went 4-2, striking out 37 batters in 27 2/3 innings. Once winter gives way to spring, he’ll once again don the cap and attempt to shut down opposing bats.
However, he’s seen a noticeable jump in offensive production in his second season of varsity hoops.
He led the Tigers in scoring Saturday with 12 points in their 82-37 loss at home to Arapahoe.
Last season, he averaged 8.3 points per game, which is solid production, especially for a freshman.
This season, he’s been the primary catalyst for Grand Junction, averaging 15.7 points with nine double-digit scoring outings in the Tigers’ 10 games.
The Tigers have struggled this season, opening 1-9. Their only win came against Poudre on Dec. 20, when they tamed the Impalas 60-57. However, Butler has consistently been among the best players on the floor no matter the opponent.
Despite Grand Junction’s loss to Fountain-Fort Carson one day after its win, Butler scored 41 points.
“I’m a really great offensive guy,” Butler said. “I’m one of the leaders on the team. I motivate people. I keep them going when we’re down by 20. I don’t want to let anyone get down.”
In addition to his 41-point performance, he’s scored 19 or more points three other times. He hasn’t led the Tigers in scoring in every game — Andy Smith led the Tigers with 27 points in their win — but Butler has led them in most.
Saturday, Butler was largely held in check by the Warriors (7-1) outside of a six-point second quarter, but that gave him the opportunity to work on his passing.
“I know I’ve got to score and do my part, but my guys know they can score too,” Butler said. “If I score, I score. If, like today, I get face-guarded, I get them open and they do their part.”
Despite the rough start to the season, Butler and his teammates know Southwestern League play is approaching, presenting new opportunities for a young squad.
“I know I’m a big part of the team, so I’ve got to go in and do my job,” Butler said. “Our record isn’t good right now, but we’ve had a pretty tough schedule. Conference play is coming, so we’re hungry for those games.”