Hannah Murphy uses her jumping ability to rise for rebounds and scoring chances, but the Morgan Township junior forward's high-flying court plans were grounded with an early season lower-leg injury.
According to girls basketball coach Kevin Krieger, Murphy rolled her ankle before the team's game against West Central on Nov. 9, and she missed seven games with a non-displaced distal fibula fracture.
"It was very tough to sit and watch my teammates in games and at practices," Murphy said. "I just wanted to go out and help them."
Once healthy, Murphy has done exactly that for the Cherokees. For the season, Murphy is averaging 6.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and shooting 51 percent from the field. Her numbers have spiked in the postseason: 10.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, and 59 percent shooting (13-of-22).
"I knew I would need to step up and be a bigger part of the team," Murphy said. "It just feels great to be a crucial part of the team."
In the last 10 games, she's averaging 8.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg and shooting 61 percent from the field (33-of-54). Over her last four games, she's scored in double figures three times.
Murphy provides a low-post presence for the Cherokees (14-10). Leading scorer Trina Coleman (14.4 ppg) can score from anywhere on the court, while fellow guard Brianna Leuck (8.1 ppg) is a threat from 3-point range.
"When you have three people scoring consistently on the (Class) A or 2A level, you can compete with almost any team," Krieger said. "We were able to use her on pick-and-roll situations with Brianna and Trina.
"Murphy's our best jumper, and she has a quick first step. She has developed some post moves."
Murphy was still a little unsure of what she could do with her leaping ability when she returned to the lineup.
"I was a little nervous if I could get up there," Murphy said. "It makes a difference to have a chance to separate (for a shot or rebound). I definitely started to feel that I was hitting my stride."
For the second straight season, Morgan Township enters the regional as winners of eight of it last 10 games.
"We've been able to learn from those experiences and have a chance to develop," Krieger said. "Some roles have changed, but we're still able to work as a team."
One of those changes this season is Murphy, who totaled 60 points last year. She had a season-high 14 points in the sectional semifinals against Washington Township, and she followed up with 13 in the championship against LaCrosse.
"She's become a difference-maker for us," Krieger said. "Her confidence is the highest it's ever been. She continues to fill her role on the team."