Gaby Bussell, Dakota Wesson, and Ayla Young were key ingredients to a team over the last four years that dominated their district and region opponents, made three straight trips to the TSSAA State Tournament, won the title in 2005-2006, and forever changed the expectations for those to follow in their footsteps.
At an assembly at Forrest High School on Friday morning, the trio signed to take their combined talents to play next year for Coach Jason Montgomery and the Lady Pioneers of Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin.
Wayne Wesson, father of Dakota and longtime AAU and youth basketball coach is seen by many coaches, players, and parents in the area as one of the master handcrafters of girl's basketball.
Wesson said," I always knew they would do well, but I just never expected they would do as well as they did. They deserve all the credit. A lot of kids have opportunities, but these girls worked hard to get it. They have been making me and other coaches look good for a long time."
"I remember a third grade AAU try-out in the Old Gym at Forrest many years ago", Wesson went on to say. "They were all there then and they have been there ever since."
"When you see these girls from Forrest and the girls from Lewisburg win state titles, it is the culmination of all the years playing together and all the hard work they all put into it."
"When these girls won at Forrest, it was their culmination and when the girls in Lewisburg won this year, it was also a culmination. I am just so proud of all of them. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot more fun."
In their sixth grade season, Bussell, Wesson, and Young played on the same team with Jessica McQueen, McKenna Moffett, and Lauren March from MCHS that finished second in the nation as members of the Tennessee Flash AAU team, coached by Wesson.
Montgomery, who will begin his second season as coach of the Lady Pioneers was ecstatic with the signing and said," We are all very excited. This is a first for me in my coaching career and a first for the school that we will be taking three players from one program."
"They are all going to be important members of our team. We are a team built for speed where depth is very important and we know they can play that style."
"It is not just the players we are choosing, it is the program they come from. Their great success here at Forrest and the coaching they received will make their transition to college much easier."
"This is pretty awesome", Bussell said. "It is going to be comfortable playing with people you have played with your whole life. It is going to be fun."