Sometimes a bit of adversity tells you something about an athlete. For Mundelein girls basketball star Natalie Busscher, that telling moment came Friday against Stevenson.
Busscher, the Mustangs’ leading scorer at more than 10 points per game, had only two points entering the fourth quarter.
“I use to get down on myself, but I have to stay positive as a captain,” said Busscher, a 5-foot-10 junior guard.
Although she continued to struggle with her shot, Busscher excelled in several other phases of the game. She drew a charge, made a couple of steals, snared four rebounds and had an assist in the final quarter of Stevenson’s 59-44 victory.
One of Stevenson’s top players, Taylor Buford, is a fan of Busscher’s game.
“We played AAU [Illinois Swish] together,” Buford said. “Natalie can go inside or outside. [She is] super aggressive and very competitive.”
Just a week earlier, Busscher showed what she’s capable of in a 46-44 victory over Zion-Benton, which had been undefeated in the North Suburban Conference Lake Division. With the Mustangs trailing 42-41, Busscher scored five points in the final two minutes to give Mundelein its 46-44 lead. Then it was time for Busscher to shine on the defensive end.
The Zee-Bees tried to dump the ball down low to their star center, Mia Yarbrough, with seconds remaining. But Busscher came off her assignment to help out teammate Jamie Hemmer underneath and broke up the pass. Game over.
“Natalie was exactly in the right spot,” Mundelein coach Brian Evans said. “She reacted really nicely to the pass.
“She has so much versatility. You can put her in the post or stick her on the perimeter.”
Hemmer, a junior who is playing on the varsity for the first time this season, knows she can count on Busscher.
“Whenever I have questions in the game or in practice, I know I can ask her,” Hemmer said. “Natalie picks up on things really fast.”
Busscher has been playing basketball since she was a first-grader. But basketball wasn’t her first love as a tot.
“I was a gymnast,” said Busscher, who enjoyed the floor exercise the most. “But I grew too much.”
Busscher has no regrets.
“Basketball is more competitive and there’s a closeness with the team,” she said. “Another family. The closeness we all have outside of basketball helps a lot.”
Busscher made the varsity as a freshman and started at the midway point of the season. She understands what it’s like to be a younger player and get help from the older teammates.
“They always helped me improve,” she said. “I looked up to them. Now I try to do the same thing with the [younger] players.”
It’s not all seriousness for Busscher, according to Stevenson’s Buford.
“She’s a really funny person,” Buford said. “She always cracks me up.”