M.J. Buschmann was representing her high school one last time on a basketball floor.
However, Buschmann, an all-state player from St. James High School, viewed last weekend's activities during the 19th annual Gerald Pilz & Friends All-Star Games as a beginning, not an ending.
"For me it is kind of the beginning of college," said Buschmann, who on Saturday night played on the white team, which lost to the red team during the Pilz All-Star Game event. "You're playing against girls who work as hard as you and play as hard as you."
Buschmann is preparing for next school year, when she will be playing for Mineral Area Junior College in Park Hills, Mo. She plans to play at Mineral Area for two seasons before deciding on which four-year university to transfer to.
As a prep senior this past season Buschmann helped continue the proud Lady Tiger basketball tradition, as she earned all-state honors (from both the coaches and sportswriters/sportscasters associations) for leading St. James to a 26-5 overall record and a third-place finish in the Missouri Class 3 State Tournament. The Lady Tigers were ranked No. 1 in Class 3 for most of the regular season.
A 5-10 forward coming off knee surgery which wrecked most of her junior campaign, Buschmann averaged 16.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.8 steals, shot 46 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range for the Lady Tigers this past season.
Buschmann said she used preparation for the Pilz All-Star event as part of her overall summer workout to get ready for the jump from the prep to the collegiate game.
"We have open gyms on Wednesdays," Buschmann said. And (St. James girls' basketball head coach Terry Wells) just got a shooting machine at the high school and I've been using that. And (Mineral Area head coach Gary Koch) gave me a different page for conditioning each day – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – and I've been doing most of that. Some of it requires weight lifting (machines) I can't get."
Buschmann also used the Pilz All-Star girls' game to test her knee, as she has shed the knee brace she used throughout last season. She seemed to pass the test, scoring several field goals and running the floor well.
"It's the second time for not using the knee brace," she said. "I prefer not using it."