Jan. 24—Head coach Brad Shorter nominated star guard Destiny Buerge of the Carl Junction girls basketball team for the McDonald's All-American game in Houston, Texas.
"It's actually really exciting, I never thought that I would actually be nominated for it," Buerge said. "My goal throughout the season was just to be conference champs and be the conference MVP, but, the nomination means a lot."
Those rosters were announced Tuesday and although Buerge was not named to either squad for the game, Shorter has nothing but praise for his senior leader and her abilities.
"I think she's well-deserving," Shorter said. "A kid that's been in the program for four years and scored a number of points. But also just been a mainstay. Defensively, she's a great player for us. Sometimes that gets overlooked because of how good she is scoring the basketball. She can pass the ball really well."
Buerge is averaging nearly 25 points per game (24.75 ppg through 16 games). She has also pulled down 5.1 rebounds per game so far this year while she's also averaging 3.5 assists and 4.6 steals per contest.
"I feel like I need to work harder and harder to get more and accomplish more," Buerge said.
Shorter is familiar with a high-caliber girls basketball player. During the 2019-20 season, he coached Katie Scott to a Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year award — another player he nominated for the McDonald's All-American game. Scott won the player of the year award for Missouri but was not selected for the game. Scott had averages of 21.9 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 5.2 apg, 3.3 spg and 2.8 blocks per game.
Buerge recalls playing alongside Scott during her award-winning season and knows just what type of player she was during that time.
"I feel like it's really exciting because Katie is a really good player and she had an amazing first year at GCU (Grand Canyon University)," Buerge said. "It means a lot. It shows how much everyone sees the work I've done and am putting in. It especially helps with my teammates when they get me open, they get open, they relieve pressure off of me and just help."
"I think Destiny has a good chance, a really good chance (at a Missouri Gatorade honor)," Shorter said. "She does a lot for our program, for our team and really for this Southwest Missouri part of the state. She's just one of those kids, if you hear her name, you know she's going to have a good basketball game."
Shorter noted that Buerge was a freshman on the team when Scott was named the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year and averaged in the double digits in scoring then. As her role has changed and she's taken on a larger responsibility Shorter has noticed growth from his veteran.
"(Buerge's) role has changed over the last four years, obviously, but I appreciate that about her and how she's willing to be super coachable and willing to make changes for what's best for the team," Shorter said.
The Gatorade Player of the Year awards are not only handed out to top performers in their respective sport, the company also seeks athletes who stand out in the classroom and community that they are in.
In Shorter's eyes, Buerge does all of that. She's the all-time leading scorer in Carl Junction school history and surpassed 2,000 points earlier this year on Jan. 2 at McDonald County. The 5-foot-8 guard is committed to play for Pittsburg State University at the next level.
The Missouri Basketball Coaches Association updated its top-10 rankings for each class in the state on Tuesday. There were some area teams featured as teams look to get to their best as they hit the final stretch of the regular season before postseason play begins at the end of February.
The Bulldogs had been No. 4 in the most recent MBCA rankings. On Tuesday, they had moved up to No. 1 in Class 5. CJ went 3-0 last week and won the Bill Hanson Memorial Tournament with a 41-39 victory over Kickapoo (Springfield) to improve to 15-1 and extend its win streak to nine.
One other girls team that was featured in the top 10 of their class was the Miller Cardinals at No. 4 in Class 2. The Cardinals are 15-4 and had won seven in a row before falling to El Dorado Springs on Saturday in the championship of the Stockton tournament.
These girls basketball teams were listed as receiving votes for their respective class on MBCA's polls: Marionville (Class 2; 14-5), Diamond (Class 3; 13-4) and Webb City (Class 5; 10-4).
In boys basketball, there were three teams receiving votes. In Class 1, Thomas Jefferson Independent School was listed as receiving votes. Class 2 showed Marionville as receiving votes and Class 5 featured Webb City.