Some of the more entertaining aspects of covering high school sports in the Metroplex are the interactions – both personal and as a spectator – with athletes.
During my time, I have had the opportunity to profile and follow the career paths of some worthy athletes in Lake Dallas, and it’s time to look at some of the students who were downright impressive this past season.
In the second of a three-part series, I’ll look at five of the top female athletes in Lake Dallas that are returning.
Basketball/Track and Field, Senior
Buss more than made up for lost time this past year after undergoing surgery to repair tears in her ACL, MCL and meniscus that sidelined her for all of her sophomore season.
The multi-sport athlete served as the floor general for a Lake Dallas girls basketball team that went undefeated in conference play to capture the outright District 6-5A title, later making an appearance in the regional quarterfinals for the second straight season.
The 5-foot-4 point guard had was named the co-MVP of District 6-5A along with Lake Dallas teammate Jorja Elliott, in addition to earning a spot on the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 5A all-state team.
Buss has an explosive burst that helps her to more than makes up for her 5-foot-4-inch frame – a statistic that showed up in her rebounding ability as she pulled down 6.0 boards per game during her junior season, to go along with 15.3 points, 4.4 assists and 1.5 steals.
Her explosiveness also showed up on the track, as she finished as a regional qualifier in both the 100-meter dash and triple jump.
A close friend of Buss, Elliott forged her own path to accomplish a rare feat her junior season – earning district MVP honors one season after her older sister, Josephine, who is now playing basketball for UT-Tyler, won that same award in her final season in high school.
The younger Elliott is a great spot-up shooter who also uses her 6-foot frame to attack the rim. She, like Buss, averaged 15.3 points, including a 29-point outburst in a 69-66 overtime win for Lake Dallas against Grapevine on Jan. 5.
In addition to earning all-district honors, Buss and Elliott were named to the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Region I Team and also landed on the Texas Girls Coaches Association all-state team.
Buss isn’t the only Lake Dallas athlete that has made a triumphant return from injury.
Nelson is again expected to be one of the top catchers in the Metroplex after she returned from offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum to post a .500 batting average with 10 home runs, 25 RBIs, 23 runs and 11 walks in 2021.
Named the catcher of the year in 6-5A, Nelson helped to lead the Lady Falcons to their first playoff appearance since 2016. Batting lead-off for Lake Dallas, she was also named to the DFW FastPitch all-Metroplex first team and to the Star Local Media softball all-area second team.
Having lost just one senior from this year’s team to graduation, expect Nelson and company to be in the mix for another playoff berth in 2022.
Gunn will be one of the top outside hitters that is expected to return in 6-5A this season.
Her athleticism and ability to hit the ball hard makes her stand out at her position. The 5-foot-11 senior will look to build on a strong junior season in which she led the Lady Falcons in both kills (222) and service aces (24).
Gunn is also strong on defense, finishing second on the team in digs with 229 during the 2020 season and committed only 18 serve-receive errors in 365 attempts.
If Lake Dallas returns to the playoffs this season after missing out on the postseason last year for the first time since 2013, count on Gunn to be a big reason why.
Sometimes it’s not all about statistics.
That is certainly the case for Murray, who had just three assists on the year, but her presence went a long way to solidifying the middle for a Lake Dallas girls soccer team that clinched a playoff berth this year for the first time since 2016.
Of course, had it not been for COVID, the Lady Falcons would have been a playoff team a year ago after Lake Dallas earned a share of the 8-5A title with Little Elm.
Murray’s steady play this year earned her the co-midfielder of the year award in 6-5A.