MACKENZIE BUSS

Lake Dallas sophomore Mackenzie Buss enjoyed breakout seasons in basketball and track.

July 10 marks the 27th ESPY Awards, the annual ceremony devoted to honoring standout professional and collegiate athletes and teams of the past year.

It’s the sports equivalent to the Oscars or Grammys, so why not put a high school spin on the concept?

Over the past school year, Lake Dallas has showcased no shortage of notable individual and team athletic achievements, so it is only appropriate to put the last season of local citywide sports into an award-winning perspective. In the coming weeks, the city’s top athletes, teams and games will be recognized among nine different awards.

With that said, Star Local Media presents the seventh edition of The Varsitys.

Best Game

Matt Welch: Lake Dallas vs. Saginaw boys soccer, March 28

The Lake Dallas boys soccer team submitted its greatest season ever in 2019, winning a district championship and advancing to the regional finals.

That dream run was mere seconds from never materializing at all, with the Falcons surviving a bi-district playoff battle with Saginaw that was won by the narrowest of margins, 3-2.

Trailing for the majority of the second half, Lake Dallas scored goals inside the final 15 seconds of both regulation and overtime to seal the improbable victory, initially knotting the count on a rebound goal by Carlos Zamora following a penalty kick and later taking the lead on a game-winner by Anthony Patti.

The odds of scoring one goal inside the final 15 seconds of a soccer match are already slim, but twice is a needle-in-a-haystack-level confluence – one that won’t be forgotten by the Lake Dallas soccer program anytime soon.

Taylor Raglin: Lake Dallas vs. Lovejoy football, Oct. 27

In one of the area’s strangest gridiron contests last fall, the Lake Dallas football team fell to Lovejoy on the road, 31-27.

That final score doesn’t do justice to the unusual nature of the teams’ bout, however.

Lovejoy raced out to an immense first-half advantage, scoring 28 unanswered points and appearing to wrap up the District 7-5A Division II matchup nearly as soon as it began.

Instead, a furious comeback from the Falcons and a sudden ineptitude on offense for the Leopards nearly undid the program’s work, as Lake Dallas alum Ryan Depperschmidt and his Falcons had a chance to win the game in the closing seconds.

After getting within four thanks to an Anthony Patti field goal, Depperschmidt and the Falcons had a final chance from the Leopard 18-yard line. After a sack from Lovejoy senior Sean Sumners, a wild ride inside Leopard Stadium finally came to an end.

Breakthrough Athlete

Matt Welch: Caelyn Gunn, Lake Dallas volleyball

Several Lake Dallas sports embraced a youth movement during the 2018-19 school year. The volleyball program got the ball rolling last fall, fueled by promising underclassmen like Gunn.

Despite being injured for part of the season, the 5-foot-10 outside hitter didn’t lack in impact when on the court – finishing her inaugural varsity campaign second on the team in kills (267) to complement 286 digs, 25 aces and 12 blocks for a Lake Dallas squad that squeaked into the postseason, thanks in part to winning a coin flip, in the first year under then-head coach Jason Roemer.

The Lady Falcons won’t be lacking in experience next season, with Gunn joined by senior Ruthie Forson and junior Candace Collier as linchpins for a Lake Dallas team that grew up plenty in 2018.

Taylor Raglin: Mackenzie Buss, Lake Dallas girls basketball, track and field

Buss burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2018-19, immediately establishing herself as one of the premier multi-sport athletes at Lake Dallas.

Buss started her career on the hardwood for the Lady Falcons with a bang, earning District 8-5A Newcomer of the Year honors for a rookie campaign that saw her average almost six rebounds and more than 2.5 assists per game to go along with 9.7 points per game in league play.

The freshman then took her talents to the track in the spring, where she made an appearance at the Region I-5A meet in both the triple jump and 100-meter dash. Buss won the area meet’s triple jump competition with a jump of more than 37 1/2 feet, then took fifth in the region in the event.

Biggest Moment

Matt Welch: The Lake Dallas coaching carousel

Turnover among coaches is an annual plight at the high school level and few athletic programs in the Metroplex felt that brunt quite like Lake Dallas in 2018-19.

Within the past four months, the Falcons had head coaches vacate their posts in volleyball (Jason Roemer), girls basketball (Katherine Madison) and baseball (Ryan Howard), all for a gamut of reasons and resulting in decisions that left programs that all turned in playoff campaigns scrambling for new leadership – and in the cases of Roemer and Madison, after just one season on the job.

Unfortunately for the Lake Dallas administration, this has become an annual search during the volleyball offseason, with Kristinn Holbrooks hired in April as the program’s fourth head coach in as many years.

Former Marcus head coach Jordan Davis was brought on board to helm the girls basketball program in May, with Colleyville Heritage assistant Chris Haney recently tabbed as the Falcons’ next head baseball coach.

Continuity and consistency are cornerstones in developing a successful athletics program, starting from the top on down. After 2018-19’s bizarre coaching carousel, time will tell if Lake Dallas can at last enjoy a bit of both.

Taylor Raglin: Lake Dallas baseball makes regional semis

In a year that saw the Falcons need to win a seeding game against Denton Ryan just to earn the No. 3 seed out of District 8-5A, the Falcons rattled off a surprise postseason run all the way to the regional semifinals.

Along the way, Lake Dallas took down TCU commit Jacob Meador and Burleson Centennial, getting a tremendous pitching performance from alum Cade McCollum opposite Meador in the process.

Throughout their run, the Falcons leaned on Depperschmidt and McCollum, as well as senior Ben Price, on the mound, as the three consistently produced competitive efforts alongside timely hitting from the program’s offense game in and game out.

While the Falcons’ run in boys soccer went one step further, the unexpected nature of the plucky Falcons’ run on the diamond makes the baseball team the school’s biggest story of 2018-19.

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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