On December 28, 2013 Mt. Carmel High School senior guard Tyra Buss swished a three-porter in the first quarter of the Lady Aces contest against Princeton (Ind.) High School in a tournament in Ft. Branch, Indiana. The three pushed Buss’ high school career scoring mark to 4,033 points, making her the IHSA’s new career scoring leader in girl’s basketball. Buss went on to score 61 more points that night, notching a career-best 66 points during an 84-82 loss.
Despite being named Illinois’ Ms. Basketball
by the Chicago Tribune last year, Buss’ prolific career has seemingly unfolded rather quietly. A large reason for that is the school’s location in southeast Illinois sitting on the Indiana border, which puts Mt. Carmel in the unique circumstance of playing in a conference with all Indiana high schools. It also creates another interesting side note in that by the math of the IHSA’s Matt Troha, if she were eligible, Buss would also rank in the Top 20 in career scoring in Indiana high school basketball history as well (over 2,000 points in 50+ games). She is pushing Illinois her scoring mark to unreachable territory, as she currently has 4,298 points in 116 career games (37.05 ppg, 100-16 record), with at least 11 games left to play in her career.
Buss, who has also qualified for the IHSA State Finals in tennis, cross country and track & field, is slated to continue her basketball career at Indiana University next year. She reflected on setting the state scoring record…
: What was it like to become the state’s career scoring leader?
: There were a lot of people who were coming up and congratulating me as I got closer to the record, but I really didn’t think about it or know exactly how close I was. It is an awesome accomplishment and it was a really a special moment when they stopped the game to recognize me and everyone was cheering. Some people get caught up in my individual scoring numbers, but I look at it as a team accomplishment. Everyone contributes, whether it is a teammate getting me an open shot with a screen or a good pass, or someone else getting an easy basket if a team is double-teaming me. I love my team and I love playing with these girls.
Tyra Buss becomes the state's career scoring leader (fast forward to 2:00)
: What is it like to look at the state scoring list and see yourself ahead of names like Naperville Central grad Candace Parker
: It means a lot. There are a lot of great players on that list and it's an honor to be included with them, especially players like Candace Parker. I have worked really hard to get where I am and I think it shows that hard work pays off.
: For those who have never seen you play, talk about your game, how do you get your points?
: I'm not very big. I'm just under 5'7 and I don't weigh very much, so I rely on my quickness a lot to try and get to the hoop and get open shots. I have a nice step back three-pointer that I like to use and will also take deep three-pointers. We face a lot of junk defenses like box-and-one or pyramid-and-two where defenders are following me all over the court, so deep threes are often the best chance I have to get open looks. I worked hard on my pull-up jumper over the summer and tried to get stronger so that I could score when there is contact or physical play (see photo at right)
. Those two things have helped make me better and my game more complete.
: Speaking of junk defenses, a media member sent me a picture in the last year or so where your opponent’s five players lined up along the out-of-bounds line and passed the ball back and forth as a stall tactic just after the game started. Did you view that as a sign of respect?
: I didn't know what was really going on. We were all kind of just laughing and looking at each other. No one really knew what to do. Eventually, after a minute or two, one of our girls went out-of-bounds and then touched the ball, so the refs blew it dead. We stole the inbounds pass and after that they didn’t do that again the rest of the game. I hadn’t really thought about it in that regard, but I guess it kind of was (a sign of respect).
An opposing team with a unique stall tactic against Mt. Carmel (photo courtesy of All Things Aces)
: The state’s previous scoring leader was Brittany Johnson
(played at Ohio State, current assistant coach at UT-Chattanooga) is from East Richland High School in Olney, which is only about 40 miles from Mt. Carmel. Did you know her or see her play?
: I saw her play several times in high school, especially when East Richland would play Mt. Carmel. She is an incredible all-around player. I looked up to her when I was growing up. It's pretty special to have the two leading scorers in state history come from about 40 minutes apart. I think it makes a statement about basketball in southern Illinois.
More of Tyra doing her thing...