Girls basketball

Morgan Township’s unsung hero happy to have found her niche

2014-02-17T19:48:00Z 2014-02-18T08:31:06Z Morgan Township’s unsung hero happy to have found her nicheMichael Raines Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 17, 2014 7:48 pm  • 

MORGAN TWP. | Hannah Murphy may not be a household name for fans of girls basketball in Northwest Indiana, but it’s fair to say Morgan Township would not have completed the program’s first-ever sectional title three-peat without her.

Murphy, a senior, plays in the paint despite standing just 5-foot-8. She typically draws the opponent’s toughest post defensive assignment, and she’s the most important rebounder for the Times No. 7 Cherokees.

She may not fill up the shot chart like fellow seniors Trina Coleman and Brianna Leuck, but she’s arguably just as important to the team’s success.

“I think she helps the team in more ways than just scoring,” said Morgan coach Kevin Krieger, who emphasized Murphy’s defense and rebounding. “She can play off of Trina’s penetration and Bri’s shooting and go get the rebounds and work into open spots. There are options for her and she’s done a good job with finding her niche on the team.”

Murphy was more important than ever in the Cherokees’ 32-29 win over Washington Twp. in the Class A Kouts sectional title game Saturday night. With the Senators hanging around late, Murphy took the ball on the left wing and drove around the Washington defender for a layup that put her team ahead for good.

It was her only field goal in the contest, and it harkened back to her days as a point guard, the position she played throughout middle school and on the JV team as a freshman.

“Those moves definitely started kicking back in,” Murphy said with a laugh. “I hadn’t used them very much lately because I’ve been in the post the last three years, but my freshman year point guard moves definitely kicked in at the point and I knew I had to do something to get us back into the game.”

Murphy’s transition from point guard to post presence was created out of necessity. Morgan Twp. didn’t have much height – and still doesn’t; 5-11 freshman Kia Holder is the only Cherokee taller than Murphy – so Krieger moved Murphy to the post simply because she jumped well.

“Krieger told me he needed me to step up and be a post player, that he would need me in the four or five position for that game,” Murphy said. “I kind of looked at him with a weird look, saying I’d never done those post player moves. But from there on out, he’s had me in the post.

“I’ve gotten a lot taller than I was my freshman year and I’ve gotten a lot stronger. I like the transition from the point guard to the post. I like the post position a lot better because it’s just a point of being stronger and doing a lot more for your team.”

Krieger is glad the transition worked so well for Murphy and for the program. He

knows back-to-back-to-back sectional titles probably wouldn’t have happened without Murphy’s willingness to put in the work.

“Hannah has done whatever we’ve asked her to do over her career,” Krieger said. “To maximize her playing time, we moved her … and she’s just kind of embraced her role, learning to be a post player. The last two sectionals, she’s come through for us. She had a big sectional final game last year against LaCrosse and she hit a huge basket (Saturday night) in the fourth quarter. She just goes about her job and does what we ask her to do and isn’t real flashy, but she gets the job done.”

An unsung hero, Murphy is happy to let the slasher Coleman and 3-point specialist Lueck grab the headlines while she toils away in the paint. For her, winning is everything.

“The publicity and stuff, I couldn’t care less about any of that,” Murphy said. “I don’t care about scoring as many points. I care about making my team better. I want to win. That’s all I look forward to, is winning. I don’t care about the publicity or scoring a bunch of points, I want my team to be the best it can be during the game.”

Morgan Twp. has been at its best with Murphy clogging the lane the past three years. Three straight sectional titles are all the reward she needs.

“It’s a heck of an experience,” Murphy said. “Coming in my sophomore year and not thinking I was going to be on varsity at all to being a part of a sectional championship that year, coming back my junior year from a fractured ankle and winning sectionals again and then coming out as a senior and winning another sectional, it’s been really great. That’s what we’ve talked about all year as seniors: that we wanted to go out with a bang and win our third sectional title.”

Looking now to win a regional title, the 15-6 Cherokees will face Class A No. 1 Oregon-Davis in the regional semifinals for the third straight season. Krieger knows Murphy will be a key to Morgan Twp.’s chances.

“We’ve got to rebound,” Krieger said. “We went there last year and I think gave up 26 points off of offensive rebounds, and lost by (22 points, 61-39). If we can keep them off the offensive boards and limit our turnovers, I think good things are going to happen for us.”

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