It there’s one thing for sure about Carthage senior Desmond Buerge, it’s that his name will be synonymous with Tigers basketball for many years to come.
Buerge, a 6-foot-5 guard, signed with Missouri State West Plains on Monday at Carthage High School and will compete for coach Yancey Walker.
Buerge, the son of Rob and Tana Buerge, brings along an impressive basketball resume. He scored 1,512 points in his Carthage career, after topping the 1,000-point mark in a Dec. 16 home game against Cassville. Buerge averaged 24 points per game this season, along with 4.5 rebounds per contest. He shot 55 percent from the floor, and 33 percent from three-point range, while making 70 percent of his free throw attempts.
In addition, Buerge started 82-consecutive games for the Tigers, and Carthage compiled a 51-31 record in that span. Buerge was twice selected as a team captain, posted a career high of 37 points in a game, and led the Tigers to a 21-7 mark this winter, the first season with 20 or more wins in 24 years.
Needless to say, he’ll be hard to replace in Carthage.
“To say the least,” Carthage head coach Steve Ray said Monday. “I don’t really know if we have a player who can really duplicate that, especially at the Class 5 level. To score that many points is really impressive. I think what’s really going to be missed is his work ethic. He’s a kid who put in a lot of time in the gym. I’m hoping that will filter down to some of our younger kids. They can see a kid who paid the price and is very successful for it.”
Buerge said he’s looking forward to not being the tallest player on the court anymore, and getting to play his true position.
“I’m real excited,” he said. “I’m excited about all the guys coming who they recruited to play. I’m ready to go play with those guys and just see what it’s like. I like that they’ve got some big guys. It’s different because normally I’m the biggest. Now I can just do my position.”
Ray described MSWP as a “very good” program.
“I think being where we’re from, we’re not as familiar with the junior college level of basketball, but they’ve been very competitive in a tough region that has produced a lot of good players,” he said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for Desmond to step in and see what kind of player he can make himself in two years. I know he’s going to go in there with that mentality. He’s only going to get better. I think it’s a win-win for both Desmond and West Plains.”
The Grizzlies, a member of the NJCAA Division 1, play in Region 16. Walker has been at the school for four years, guiding the team to a 21-10 mark this past season.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for Desmond,” Ray said. “I’m extremely proud of him. He’s worked very hard and he’s definitely deserving of the opportunity.”
Buerge said he will miss his friends and coaches.
“It’s going to be different,” he said. “It’s a new experience.”
And what about his legacy at Carthage High School with 1,512 career points?
“That’s what I was going for, to get my picture in the trophy case,” he said with a laugh. “And it worked.”
For the 2011-12 season, Buerge was selected by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association to the first team All-State squad, in addition to receiving first team All-Conference honors for the COC Large School division, and first team All-District honors for Class 5, District 12.
Buerge received first team All-District honors as a junior, as well as second team All-Conference honors, and he was a first team All-District and second team All-Conference player as a sophomore.
Buerge was also named a Super 50 member this year by MOsports.com.