Sacred Heart’s Bottoms shares honor with sibling

Levi GIlbert

by Levi Gilbert

For Madeline Bottoms, her senior season carries extra importance. Not just because it’s her final season in a Sacred Heart uniform, but because this year she gets to share an honor with her late brother, Drew Bottoms. 

Madeline, a senior guard for Sacred Heart, was selected to this year’s 501 Basketball Team — 41 players representing the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the court. The team is sponsored by Conway Regional Health System, First Security Bank and Conway Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Center. 

Madeline’s brother, Drew, was selected to the first 501 Basketball Team in 2013. Drew died in 2014, a few weeks after his Sacred Heart graduation. 

“I am proud to be named to this year’s 501 Basketball Team because my oldest brother, Drew, was a member of the inaugural team,” Madeline said. “I play every game with heart in his memory, and I know he would be proud of all my accomplishments.”

In addition to sharing the 501 Basketball Team honor with her brother, Madeline also honors Drew’s memory every game by wearing the same number he wore, 23. 

Madeline was nominated to the team by her head coach, Kyle Duvall. 

“Madeline is a really versatile player and can really shoot the ball anywhere on the floor,” Duvall wrote in his nomination. “She is an excellent free throw shooter. She has hit numerous big shots for us throughout her career and really wants the ball when the game is on the line. She has a very high basketball IQ and sees the floor really well.

Sacred Heart High School’s Madeline Bottoms is a member of this year’s 501 Basketball Team, sponsored by Conway Regional Health System, First Security Bank and Conway Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Center. (Mike Kemp photo)

“I expect Madeline to have a big senior season. Being the only senior on the team, we are going to rely on Madeline to continue to lead the team. She knows what we have to do to reach our goals this season, and I know she will work hard to lead us there. We expect her to continue to score the ball this season and rebound at a high rate and really build off the great season she had last year.”

Last year as a junior, Madeline led Sacred Heart with 14 points and five rebounds per game. This season, Madeline is setting high goals for her last run. 

“Being a senior, I want to give everything I have one last year and play every game like it’s my last,” Madeline said. “I also want to be a positive role model and a leader to my underclassmen. My team and I want to make it further than last year. We are aiming to make it to the state tournament.

“Every night is going to be a battle in our tough conference, so my teammates and I have to give it our all every night. I want to be remembered as someone who plays with heart every night. I want to be remembered as a team player and someone for younger players to look up to.”

After Madeline hangs up her sneakers this winter, she’ll lace up her cleats to play first base for the Sacred Heart softball team. Outside of athletics, Madeline is involved in Quiz Bowl, Beta Club, Key Club, Student Council and the Catholic Youth Organization. 

After high school graduation, she plans to attend either the University of Arkansas or Arkansas State University to major in civil engineering. But until then, she’s focused on capturing all the final moments of her senior year at Sacred Heart.

“[I try] to always remember to take it all in,” Madeline said. “The memories made with your teammates are irreplaceable. The hours spent practicing and playing together will form an unbreakable bond. [I try to] remember to always have fun and make the most out of every moment.”

Sacred Heart (7-4, 1-3) returns to action at Conway Christian at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5.