Bussell Bolstering All-Around Game to Go with Stellar Scoring Skills

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

December 27, 2022

Sophia Bussell doesn’t want to be known just as a shooter. 

Southeast & BorderBut it’s hard to ignore her shooting talents. 

The Monroe High School sophomore recently set two single-game records for the Trojans – most 3-pointers made in a game with 10 and most points in a game with 36. She’s off to a great start in her career with a lot of games – and shots – to go. 

“I personally just love to shoot,” Bussell said. “But I am glad that this season I get to show that I’m more than just a shooter.” 

Bussell burst onto the Monroe County basketball scene last season when she joined her sister Olivia, a senior, on the Trojans varsity. Sophia started gaining local attention right from the opening tip. In January, she etched her name in the school record book when she scored 29 points and made a school-record eight 3-pointers at Ypsilanti Lincoln. 

This season Lincoln was once again the opponent when Bussell went on her hot streak Dec. 13. Her 3-pointer with six seconds left gave Monroe a 58-56 lead – and a school-record 36 points as her team claimed the victory. 

Bussell said Lincoln was in a zone defense, something she rarely sees. 

“In the previous games, teams were face-guarding and double-teaming me,” she said. “This was the first team this season who played zone on us. As a shooter, when you see a zone defense, you get excited because it opens up a lot more shots and opportunities to score.” 

Bussell didn’t waste any of them. 

“My first couple shots went in, which helped build confidence to keep shooting from deep,” she said.  

Her teammates kept feeding her the ball, and she kept shooting. She made 10 of 18 3-point attempts that night. 

Bussell was aware of how many 3-pointers she had made because Monroe’s team manager, Emily Eshenroder, was tracking every shot. 

“She let me know every timeout,” Bussell said. 

Bussell, with the ball, considers her next move. It’s been an adjustment this season for Bussell. Last year as a ninth grader, she had her older sister with her every step of the way.  

“Being able to play my first year of high school basketball with my sister meant the world,” she said. “It took a lot of pressure off me because the defense focused in on her.” 

This year, she’s the leader of the team. 

“At first it was kind of difficult not having my sister around, because the defense started focusing on me, but it’s only going to make me a better player over time,” she said. 

Monroe head coach John Mason, who took over the team mid-season last winter, said Bussell continues to improve, both as a shooter and as an all-around player. 

“It is definitely hard not having big sister around, but she is learning how to deal with it by just playing,” he said. “Our practice environment has a great group of kids that enjoy each other. It’s only a matter of time before this group takes off.” 

Monroe is 2-6 and off until January when the Trojans resume play in the rugged Southeastern Conference Red. 

Bussell is already a veteran on the court. She started playing basketball in the third grade, going to camps in the Monroe area. 

“Whatever camps were doing something (I’d go),” she said. 

By the fifth grade, Bussell was playing travel basketball. She joined the Michigan Mystics out of Clio when she was in the seventh grade and continues with them during the offseason. 

Mason said Bussell is always in the gym and always shooting. 

“Her and a few others stay late after practice and work on their game,” he said. “We work on getting extra shots up that resembles what she will have in games. And before she leaves practice, she hits about 20 makes from the volleyball line.” 

Bussell, who also plays volleyball for Monroe, said basketball has always been a big part of her life. She has long dreamed of playing college basketball, something the 5-foot-7 guard seems to be well on the way toward achieving. 

“I have many goals in basketball, including becoming a strong mental player and a good teammate,” she said. 

For now, she’s not worried about setting more records or how many shots she faces. She also knows defenses will focus on her more and more as her numbers grow. 

“I just need to keep working hard,” she added, “and everything will slowly fall in place for my next two seasons.”

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Monroe’s Sophia Bussell reaches for a loose ball last season against Temperance Bedford. (Middle) Bussell, with the ball, considers her next move. (Top photo by Dana Stiefel; middle photo by John Discher.)

Hemlock, Rockford Follow 3-Point Success to 1st Titles, Record Book Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 1, 2023

Hemlock and Rockford's drives to their first Girls Basketball Finals championships in March were paced in part by some of the strongest 3-point shooting in MHSAA history.

The Division 1 title-winning Rams connected on 243 3-pointers – third-most all-time – over 29 games in tying the single-season wins record while finishing 28-1. Grace Lyons, a senior this fall, made the single-season individual list with 70 3-pointers.

The Huskies won in Division 3 having connected on 229 3-pointers over 29 games, seventh-most in MHSAA history, on 678 attempts, which ranks 12th on that list. Chloe Watson made the single-season list with 75 3-pointers, and Regan Finkbeiner did as well connecting on 67.

Watson also made the career 3-pointers list with 224 and Finkbeiner with 194, and 2017 Hemlock graduate Samantha Krauss was added for 65 3-pointers as a junior in 2015-16 and 188 for her career. Additionally, past Hemlock standout Karli Herrington was added for her 317 rebounds in 2012-13, and Peyton Apsey was added for 144 steals in 2010-11.

Watson is continuing her career at Mid-Michigan College, and Finkbeiner is playing softball at Madonna. Herrington went on to play at Central Michigan and Northwood, Krauss played at Ferris State and Apsey played at Oakland.

Read on for more recent record book additions for girls basketball:

Girls Basketball

Hudsonville’s Maddie Petroelje joined the list of top 3-point shooters in MHSAA history as a junior in 2021-22, when she connected on 70 (in just 147 attempts) to make the single-season list. She graduated this spring 16th on the career list as well with 226 3-pointers in 512 attempts over 92 games and four seasons. She is continuing at Loyola (Ill.).

Byron Center’s Avery Zeinstra also finished her career among those top 3-point shooters. She also made the single-season list with 70 in 147 attempts as a freshman in 2018-19, and she capped her career in 2021-22 with 206 3-pointers (tied for 20th-most) in 502 attempts over four seasons and 80 career games. She is continuing at Grand Valley State.

Hannah Thompson was best known for her soccer scoring at Schoolcraft. But she’s made a second MHSAA record book for her 15 steals in a Jan. 28, 2022, basketball win over Galesburg-Augusta. She’s continuing her soccer career at Eastern Michigan.

Baraga’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals in 2022 received big boosts from Corina Jahfetson’s 3-point shooting and Reide Osterman’s defense. Jahfetson was added to the record book with 66 3-pointers over 25 games, including nine in a game against Carney Nadeau – when Baraga as a team made the record book with 14 3-pointers total. Osterman made the record book with 153 steals. Jahfetson graduated this spring, and Osterman is playing at Northern Michigan.

Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy’s Audrey Mileski had one of the busiest games at the free throw line in MHSAA history Dec. 14, 2021. She made 23 free throws – third-most in a single game – against Wyoming Kelloggsville. Mileski graduated this spring.

Sophia Bussell had set Monroe’s single-game 3-pointers record of eight as a freshman two seasons ago, and she bettered it last Dec. 13 by tying for the 10th-most in MHSAA history. She made 10-pointers including the game-winner of a 58-56 victory over Ypsilanti Lincoln. A little less than 10 months earlier, Adrian Lenawee Christian then-senior Kylie Summer also made 10, on 17 attempts, during a 57-34 win over Lansing Christian on Feb. 24, 2022.

Lydia Meredith enjoyed a memorable senior season for Portland St. Patrick in 2021-22, finishing her four-year varsity career with 453 steals over just 80 games. She also was added for drilling 17 free throws in 22 attempts against Fowler. She plays now at Saginaw Valley State.

Gabby Piepho got off to a fast start at Howell as a freshman last season, and at a record-setting pace at the free-throw line. She made 93 of 107 attempts over 25 games, for an .869 percentage that made the single-season list. That included a string of 47 straight free throws that ranks as the second-longest in MHSAA history. As a team, Howell tied for sixth all-time with 301 free throws over 25 games, on 439 attempts.

Kent City’s Lexie Bowers reached the single-season 3-pointers list for the second time last season, connecting on 72 of 233 tries over 26 games (after making 77 as a junior), and finished her four-season varsity career 16th on that 3-pointers list with 225 in 693 attempts over 99 games. She’s continuing her career at Northwood. Kent City as a team also reached the single-season 3-pointers made and attempted lists again, ranking fourth with 753 attempts and tying for eighth all-time by connecting on 202.

Posen then-junior Faith Cousins earned a par of record book entries during 2021-22 for assists. Her 16 in a District Final win on March 4, 2022, remain tied for fifth-most in one game, and she finished with 165 over 22 games for the season. She’s set to begin her softball career at Alma College.

Niles Brandywine went over 20 wins again this past season, finishing 21-3, and again the 3-pointer was a key tool in that pursuit. Brandywine made the record book with back-to-back games of 13 3-pointers to close the regular season, and finished with 175 3-pointers in 592 attempts over 23 games (with one won by forfeit).

Greenville’s Megan Leslie averaged more than two 3-pointers a game during her four-season varsity career, making the record list with 153 total over 76 games through graduation this spring. She’s continuing her career at Alma College.

Successful 3-point shooting played a major role in Saline finishing 21-4 with league and District titles last winter. The Hornets attempted 704 3-pointers – ninth-most all-time for one season – and connected on 191, which is 12th on that list. They made a season-high 14 against Ypsilanti Lincoln on Nov. 29 to make the single-game list.

Marcellus senior Brooklyn VanTilburg enjoyed a big finish to her high school career last winter, making the record book with 16 blocked shots in a game against Centreville and 135 blocks total for the season. She’ll continue at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Kennedy Gustafson made headlines last winter as a sophomore and earned a pair of record listings for her rebounding. She grabbed 26 in a March 3 District Final win over Muskegon Western Michigan Christian, and she finished with 376 rebounds over 25 games for the season.

PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner, left, follows through on a free throw attempt during last season's Division 3 Final, and Rockford's Grace Lyons launches the game-winning 3-pointer in Division 1.