All-State Huskie cousins: Burton and Stokes

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 3/17/23

Sarah Burton, a junior at Highland High School, doesn’t stop. Not for a minute.

There is basketball. And softball. And track. And volleyball.

And just in case that wasn’t …

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All-State Huskie cousins: Burton and Stokes


Sarah Burton, a junior at Highland High School, doesn’t stop. Not for a minute.

There is basketball. And softball. And track. And volleyball.

And just in case that wasn’t enough, you might even see her pop in for a cameo appearance at school board meeting.

“All-around athlete,” said Jody Fink, her basketball coach and the athletics director at Highland. “She can go anywhere and do anything.”

There’s a reason. And it’s family.

Aly Stokes, a 2019 Highland High graduate and a 2019 All-State selection in basketball, also didn’t stop. Basketball, softball, track, volleyball.

Aly is an older cousin of Sarah. And an inspiration.

“We’re pretty much alike,” Sarah says. “A lot of people say we resemble each other very well because we’re both four-sport athletes. She does long jump. I do long jump. She played volleyball. I play volleyball. We all play the same sports. She was shortstop. When she graduated, I took her spot.

“We’re very similar in how we play and how we lead a team,” she added. “She’s just someone I’ve looked up to.”

Add All-State to the list. Burton was named All-State in girls basketball this year, the first Huskie to achieve that list since her cousin did so four years ago. Burton helped the Huskies to a 10-win season and led the Southeast Iowa Super Conference North in rebounds (284), steals (87) and blocks (58). She was the top junior scorer.

Go back to 2019, and Stokes, coached by Fink, led the SEISC North in defensive rebounds, steals and blocks.

The cousins are certainly athletic sisters. Close ones.

“She fills so many different roles,” Fink said of Burton. “As a ballhandler, as a rebounder, defender. She’s a great all-around player.”

The All-State selection verifies it. Burton was named to the Class 1A Second Team.

“It also helps show her that she’s respected throughout the state on that, as well,” Fink said. “For her to get on (All-State) basketball, it says a lot. Even moving forward, it puts her name out there for other college coaches to sit there and take a look at. She was one of the top players in our conference all the way around.”

And then there’s track. Burton nearly won All-State honors as a sophomore, finishing third in the long jump at the state championships. The top two win All-State selection.

And in softball, Burton is one of the best baserunners in the state. Just like Aly.

Burton has stolen 75 bases in her first three varsity seasons, including 9-for-9 in her eighth-grade season.

Stokes had 81 stolen bases in her five varsity seasons, including 6-for-6 in her freshman season of 2015. In her last two seasons, Stokes was never thrown out.

As Burton enters the last months of her junior year, college choices are entering the conversation. Not only where, but in which sport? There could be multiple options.

“I really do think she can sit there, she’ll be able to pick what sport she wants to do,” Fink said. “She’s a very good softball player. Track, she flies, could do that if she wanted to. Volleyball, she can play the front row, she can play the back row. Basketball, she can handle the ball.”

“I’m leaning toward softball or volleyball,” she said, “just because I feel like that’s where I feel I’m most dominant. I enjoy all of them.”

Just like Aly.

Burton’s senior season will be so different. She’ll be the team leader, not just in stats but vocally. It’ll be an important role for a Huskie team that won’t have many seniors.

“Her teammates will react,” Fink said. “They follow her pretty well. She doesn’t say a whole lot right now. But when she does speak up, when she does talk, her teammates listen.”

Coming out of this season, it is a lesson that has already stuck with Burton.

“I learned not to be selfish and just encourage others as much as I can because that encouragement will boost their confidence,” she said.

Well said.

News columnist Paul Bowker can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @bowkerpaul

Highland High School, basketball, Sarah Burton, Aly Stokes, All-State