Buse starred on Raiders’ 1st regional title teamJune 3, 2020
BY COREY STOLZENBACH
Annette (Lange) Buse can remember the days quite well when she had nine other siblings growing up, and the athletic competitions between them.
“We generally had enough to make our own sports teams,” Buse said with a laugh.
Sometimes, there had to be two teams as the Lange Family had a basketball goal outside on their driveway, with them shooting all the time. Annette is one of the younger children in the family, and took her lumps out there in the driveway against her older brothers. She credits those experiences for giving her her competitive drive.
She remembers being on undefeated teams in middle school, and such success would carry over to the prep level, though she didn’t join the varsity squad as a freshman right away. Annette was on an undefeated junior varsity team that was coached by her brother, Gary.
The wins just kept piling up once she moved to varsity. The 1986-87 Raiders did not have a single senior on the team. She formed a scoring duo with Amy Kissling, and the JV team went 17-1 that year, with Sam Fenneman and Pala Peach soon making an impact on the varsity squad.
“They were just what we needed,” Annette laughingly said. “We had some upperclassmen obviously graduate and us kind of growing into moving up to the varsity and taking over leadership, we needed a big person inside. Sam was great. She was a great rebounder. She was a great scorer. She was an extremely level-headed athlete as well, very dependable, and Pala was just a crazy nut. She brought so much energy to the game, so many laughs when we would take things too seriously — like she was our little shot in the arm.”
The Raiders met a Forest Park team with 11 upperclassmen, including six seniors, in the championship game, but youth won out, 64-57, in favor of Southridge. Annette was part of the second Southridge girls team to ever win a sectional behind the 1976 team that featured her sisters, Jean and Marcia. The then-sophomore chipped in 14 points against the Rangers.
“I guess we were just proud to be able to say, ‘Hey, we’re the second one to do it, this is pretty cool,’ coming after them, and it had been so long,” she said. “It’s fun to be able to say, ‘Hey, we’re taking this crown back.’”
The forward kept her performance going in the regional round against Evansville Memorial. Annette went 10 for 11, 91 percent, on field goals that night, posting a 20-point performance.
However, despite this outing, Southridge still lost, 60-46, and Annette said the team had jitters that night. Southridge lost largely thanks to the play of Diane Starry, who helped fuel a 19-10 Memorial run in the third quarter, and scored a best 48 points for the duration of the tournament.
“Diane Starry, interestingly, was my future teammate at the University of Evansville,” Annette said. “She is just a tough player. She’s a big girl. She’s strong. She is just so physical and she was just a natural basketball player. She had a great outside shot, and her size, combined with that, was just something that was tough for us to deal with.”
The success was just beginning for Annette and the Raiders. She averaged 12.8 points per game in the regular season of her junior campaign in 1987-88, helping the Raiders to an undefeated 18-0 season. Many of their games were runaways, but they survived some close ones with a 69-61 overtime win against Pike Central, and also a 61-55 overtime win against Princeton.
Annette was only part of that depth that she thought helped carry the Raiders when she was an upperclassman.
“In Pike Central, I do remember Tricia Deffendoll,” she said. “She was a fantastic guard, and she reminded me so much of Pala Peach, but she was also my future teammate at the University of Evansville, just a great shooter.”
Of course, going undefeated during the season and staying undefeated during the sectional required some breaks and some clutch play here and there. The Raiders found themselves in a 47-47 tie with Jasper in that year’s sectional championship game, when they received a boost from Traci (Roberts) Mattingly, who drilled a 3-pointer to give Southridge the lead, and the team repeated with a 56-50 win.
Annette, for her part, had a game-high 17 points and 10 rebounds, and was the MVP of the sectional.
Heartbreak, however, ensued in the regional championships against Evansville Bosse. The Raiders led by five in the final two minutes, and almost won the game on a dramatic bucket. Fenneman threw a pass down to Susan Brinkman on the inbound. Southridge made a basket, but a five-second inbounding violation was called. Bosse’s Jackie Wilson made both free throws after being fouled, and the Raiders were eliminated, 63-60, ending the year 21-1.
Annette recalled the team going back and watching the video “57,000 times.”
“Objectively speaking, I don’t think it was the right call,” she said. “I think, though, that the officials were in a position that the call had already been made. Obviously, as an adult person, I understand that. It’s difficult to go back and say, ‘Oh, we made a mistake,’ but I think, just like everybody else in the arena, the officials were probably excited, maybe they were counting a little fast. Things happen. It’s just a game. Of course, when you’re the kid in the game, it doesn’t feel like just a game, right?”
The team had a newfound motivation after that point. She wishes the Raiders would’ve had more tournament experience going into her senior season, but if the third time is a charm, here was an example of that saying. Southridge once again went undefeated in the 1988-89 regular season with an 18-0 record.
The Raiders staved off a close game with Northeast Dubois, but completed the sectional three-peat with a win against host Jasper, and Annette was the sectional MVP for the second year in a row despite having a chest cold during that tournament. She knew she had a job to do, and wasn’t going to miss it for the world.
“I remember just feeling shaky, a little tired, but as long as you’re drinking enough fluids, the adrenaline gets you through it,” Annette said. “That spirit of wanting to be out there — you can work through a lot of things when adrenaline’s in your favor and you’re just excited.”
There’d be no more heartbreak in the regional tournament, as eighth-ranked Southridge improved to 23-0 with a 73-44 rout against Evansville Central.
“We were elated,” she said. “I think it was just like a sense of relief. Like, ‘We knew we could do this. We’ve been waiting for this moment for so long and last year, and the year before that had seemed like a disappointment,’ but it was amazing.”
The Feb. 13, 1989, edition of The Herald reported that Central coach Gretchen Eisenhauer made comments on the radio that the Raiders took offense to. One comment that was reported was, “We’re gonna smoke ’em.” However, The Herald reported Eisenhauer denied saying that and also that comments were taken out of context.
The Herald reported that four Southridge players heard the interview, but Annette said she wasn’t one of them.
“I think that we would’ve used any kind of motivation that we could to fire ourselves back up in those days,” she said.
She scored a game-high 22 points against Bedford North Lawrence at semistate, including going 8 for 10 from the free throw line, but the No. 2-ranked Stars edged out a 72-68 win. The two teams were tied at 68 before Bedford North Lawrence ended the game on a 4-0 run. Peach threw up a 3-point shot that just missed and would’ve given the Raiders a 71-70 lead.
Annette tries not to look back on one particular thing and wonder how things could’ve been done differently. She admits the loss was heartbreaking, but she ended her high school career with three sectional championships, two undefeated regular seasons and a regional championship.
“I couldn’t have gone through high school at a better time for me because it was before class basketball and we just got together to play for the love of sport,” Annette said. “We didn’t have all of these special training programs and it was just kids that got to go out and play because they loved to play.”
She considered herself very fortunate to be able to play at the NCAA Division I level, since basketball was what she loved to do.
“I had the most fun ever in any sport playing volleyball, just pure fun,” she said. “We won the first Southridge sectional ever when we were seniors there, too — Amy and Sam and those people, again, those same athletes — but that was my fun sport. Basketball was my serious sport, and I guess I just felt like I had to go forward with that one.”
Annette couldn’t believe it when she was put in a game against Vanderbilt University with two opposing players at 6 feet, 8 inches tall, but it was fun to see the caliber of athletes at that level, and she appreciated her college career.
She got to coach for a bit, too. Annette was an assistant basketball coach at Jasper during the 1997-98 season, and also the head volleyball coach at Southridge for the next three seasons, which she greatly enjoyed.
“The day of our first game, I gave birth to my daughter, Mackenzie — my first child Mackenzie on the day of our first game,” Annette said.
Annette is also an instructor to graduating nursing students at Vincennes University Jasper. She remembers the campus being closed for a week during COVID-19, and it escalated from there.
They switched to an online format, and she said it gave anxiety to students. Annette said there’d be Zoom sessions and simulated situations to give them learning.
However, she isn’t sure what the future will hold for classes in the fall.
“(It’s) scary stuff,” she said.
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