WISCONSIN DELLS - Tyra Buss is the all-time basketball scoring leader among Illinois high school girls and Indiana University women, and No. 1 at IU in several other categories including assists and steals. But by Saturday afternoon she may not be the only person in her extended family who is No. 1.
Uncle Bob Buss, brother of Tyra's dad and Mount Carmel schools superintendent Tim Buss, has coached Wisconsin Dells High School girls into that state's Division III Final Four in Green Bay's Resch Center, near Lambeau Field that is home to the NFL Packers. Having won regional and sectional titles in that order, a la the Illinois prep postseason system, Bob Buss' Lady Chiefs will take a 24-game win streak and 25-1 record against Madison suburban Marshall at 1:35 p.m, Thursday. Should they win that semifinal, they'll play in Saturday's 1:35 p.m. state championship game against Milwaukee area Thomas Moore.
"I knew we'd be good, what with girls who have been with me since their freshman year, girls who have lifted our program, but I didn't know we'd be this good," said Bob Buss, who like Tim and oldest brother Jeff played sports at Wisconsin Dells. Bob played as a basketball guard, baseball pitcher and football receiver as a 1982 grad, following 1980 grad Tim. Both continued their athletic careers at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Bob as a pitcher and Tim as a basketball player.
While Tim and wife Kelly Buss settled in Mount Carmel, where Tyra and her brothers Kyle and Tyler were born, Bob assisted with Wisconsin Dells boys but moved to Milwaukee, where he assisted with Rufus King High boys who won state championships in 1991, 1995 and 2003. He returned to Wisconsin Dells to assist brother Jeff with the girls. When Jeff left coaching to go into sales, Bob served six years as boys assistant coach before becoming girls head coach for the 2013-14 campaign.
"Two years ago our girls lost the regional final. Last year we won regional but lost the sectional opener. This year, after a first-round bye in the regional, we won two games there and two in the sectional. We won our sectional opener 47-46 from GET, a school outside La Crosse; and last Saturday we won the sectional by beating Hayward 46-29," Buss said.
"Our girls have gone 30-and-oh in the South Central Conference the past three seasons including this one. Not only do our girls work hard at basketball, they genuinely love being together. When I asked them how they feel about going to state, a couple of them said it's great to get another week together. I'll turn 54 on September 5, but our girls are such a great group that I'll keep coaching until I get run out of the job."
Senior point-guard Jenna Meyer leads the Lady Chiefs with 20 points per game, the number she scored in Saturday's sectional title win. Katelyn Meister averages 19 as the shooting guard.
"Jenna will play collegiately at Wisconsin Lutheran. Katelyn is getting looks from Drake and Eastern Illinois," said their coach, who starts two seniors and three juniors. "Jenna and Katelyn are really good players. But, no, they're not quite at Tyra's level."
"I don't talk a lot about Tyra, but our girls watch her on TV quite a bit. I saw her in person Minnesota this season and at Wisconsin last year, and I went to Bloomington to see her Senior Day game a couple weeks ago," Buss added about his niece. "Our girls not only know about Tyra, they know her because she talked to our team once when she came up here. You can tell that meeting Tyra meant a lot to our girls."
Bob Buss noted that the Lady Chiefs "beat Marshall by 10 points last year when we hit our free throws at the end. They're a guard-oriented team. Amherst and Thomas Moore have big girls who are physical."
"This is the first time Wisconsin Dells basketball has made it to the state tournament. Just to make it there is something. My first time to state as a head coach. To win state would be fantastic," Buss said.