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.
But 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.
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 DougDonnelly@hotmail.com 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.)
Performance of the Week: Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner
March 24, 2023
Regan Finkbeiner ♦ Hemlock
Senior ♦ Basketball
The 5-foot-6 guard capped her high school career at Breslin Center over the weekend with team highs of 24 points and four steals in Thursday’s 57-26 Division 3 Semifinal win over Hart and the team-leading 19 points and four assists in the 59-43 win over Blissfield on Saturday that clinched the Huskies their first MHSAA Finals championship in girls basketball.
Finkbeiner played all but four minutes of 64 total over the two games, and she made a combined 15 of her 27 shots from the floor and 9 of 10 free throw attempts, plus four 3-pointers in the Final. She had entered the season’s final week averaging 17.1 points, 3.5 assists and 4.8 steals per game and in February became the program’s all-time leading scorer breaking the previous record of 1,302. A standout in multiple sports, she’s committed to continue playing softball after high school at Madonna University. Her basketball team finished 26-3 this winter.
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March 16: Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Report
March 9: Braeden Davis, Dundee wrestling - Report
March 2: Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23: Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16: Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9: Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2: Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26: Shayne Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19: Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20: Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16: Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9: Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2: Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24: Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17: Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10: Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3: Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27: Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20: Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13: Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6: Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30: Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22: Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15: Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8: Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1: Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25: Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report
PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner drives to the basket during her team's Semifinal win over Hart. (Photos courtesy of the Hemlock girls basketball program.)