Basketball

Mt. Carmel’s Tyra Buss is now on top of the prep basketball world. Monday night, the Lady Aces junior was named Illinois’ Ms. Basketball, the highest award for a girls player in the state.

The award is presented by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association in association with the Chicago Tribune. Buss will receive her award during the annual IBCA Hall of Fame banquet on April 27 at Illinois State University.

“I am just overwhelmed with emotion right now,” said Buss, who has already committed to attend Indiana University following her graduation from the Hilltop in 2014. “I feel so blessed and I’m so grateful for being honored with this award. It makes me feel good to know that my hard work and dedication is being recognized.”

Buss finished with 255 points in the statewide balloting of media and schools, and was named first on 41 ballots. McDonald’s All-American and Kentucky-bound Linnae Harper of Chicago Whitney Young was second with 194 points, earning first place on 28 ballots. Jordan Frericks of Quincy Notre Dame was third with 92 points, followed by Sophie Brunner of Freeport Aquin (87 points) and Emmonnie Henderson of Edwardsville (70).

The Ms. Basketball award thus heads south for the first time since 2007, when Olney’s Brittany Johnson was selected, also as a junior. It is Johnson’s state scoring record of 4,031 points that Buss is bearing down on, only 600 points away as her senior year beckons. Buss set the state single-season mark this year with 1,285 points on a scoring average of 38.9 points per game.

Lady Aces coach Tim Willis called it “a great accomplishment, great for her, her school and the community.”

Even though Willis said you “normally don’t win it until you’re a senior,” the veteran coach thought Tyra had a chance anyway after finishing third last year as a sophomore. “It’s great for southern Illinois,” he said. “It couldn’t happen to a nicer kid.”

Buss took time to issue words of thanks. “I am so thankful to the people that voted for me. I am especially thankful for my family and all of my coaches and teammateswho have all helped make this moment possible. I am so proud to represent Illinois with the title of Ms. Basketball for the game I respect and love to play.”

Buss, who has been a first-team AP Class 2A all-state selection three times - this year by unanimous consent - averaged 6.1 stels, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for the 32-1 Lady Aces, who recorded the first undefeated regular season (29-0) in the history of Mt. Carmel High School basketball, dating back more than 100 years.

During her junior year, Buss also set a new state record for career made free throws, and inched her single-game school scoring record upwards to 54 points.

According to the balloting instructions, each first-place vote was worth five points, second three points and third place one point. Each voter could select three players.

• Jabari Parker of Chicago Simeon was named the winner of Mr. Basketball for Illinois. The Duke-bound 6-foot-9 senior averaged 18.4 points per game for the four-time state champions. Whitney Young junior Jahlil Okafor finished second in the boy’s balloting.

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