Murphy erupts in Crater win
CENTRAL POINT — Crater unleashed its big secret against Klamath Union in Southern Sky Conference boys basketball Tuesday night.
Crater 7-foot senior center Jared Murphy turned in his best offensive performance of the season as Comets pounded the visiting Pelicans, 67-44.
The unheralded Murphy contributed four points and two blocks during a 17-2 Comet run over a five-minute span of the first quarter, and the cold-shooting Pelicans (7-7, 1-3 SSC) never challenged from there.
Jon Amos gave KU an initial 2-0 lead 1:45 into the game. Then back-to-back 3-pointers by Nick Brothers and Josh Lokeno and consecutive Crater baskets by Murphy — sandwiched around a field goal by the Pelicans' Wyatt Lundy — got the Comets rolling.
Murphy looked composed in the key with a finger-roll bucket and a layup on a feed off a penetration move by Brothers for his first four points.
"Offensively, it was (Murphy's) best game of the season," said Crater coach Troy McNichols. "Games like tonight are great for his confidence. He hasn't been a focal point in the past but now he knows he's a big part of what we want to do. He's come so far in the last couple of years, and he's just getting better."
Murphy, one of four Comet players in double figures, finished with 13 points, five blocks and four rebounds.
"It's a vast improvement over previous games," said Murphy. "We've been working on my post moves and catching the ball."
Crater (10-6, 3-1 SSC) led 19-7 at the end of the opening period and stretched the margin to 39-14 at halftime.
Murphy paced the Comets with nine points in the first half.
"(Murphy) has come a long way," said an impressed Klamath Union coach Bret Crawford. "He's a good high school basketball player."
McNichols was pleased seeing Murphy execute facets of the game that the coaching staff has stressed.
"He watched the ball all the way into his hands and people weren't able to take the ball away," said the Comet third-year coach. "He ran rim-to-rim. He was making himself known out there. And he wasn't getting pushed around."
Klamath Union tried to use its speed and athleticism by pressing Crater full court. But the Comets did a decent job neutralizing the Pelicans' defensive strategy with Lokeno, Brothers and junior guard Travis Robbins, who's been moved into the starting lineup the last three games because senior Bryce Peila has been sidelined with mononucleosis.
Klamath Union forced Crater into 16 turnovers but had 13 miscues itself. And Crater dominated the boards, 33-20.
Brothers tallied a game-high 15 points, Lokeno added 13 and 6-5 senior forward Drew Runberg contributed 11 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
"It was good our guards hit some shots right away," said McNichols. "That caused them to extend their defense and made the interior that much more open for our big guys. We did a good job establishing an interior game by spreading them out."
While Crater took advantage of its high-percentage chances — shooting 58 percent from the field — Klamath Union could connect on just 16 of 57 (28 percent).
"Their big guys on defense gave us problems," said Crawford, whose tallest player is 6-4 Dylan Bartolomei. "They reduced us to the outside shot. And our shooting was poor tonight."
McNichols acknowledged the Comets' destiny this season might be tied to the maturation of Murphy.
"I feel in order for us to go far," said McNichols, "Jared has to continue to blossom."
That process was evident against Klamath Union.
KLAMATH UNION (44) — Foster 0, Brooks 3, Lundy 14, Denson 2, Amos 6, Bartolomei 3, Wilder 6, Gallagher 8, McLaughlin 2. Totals: 16-57 8-13 44.
CRATER (67) — Lee 0, Robbins 8, Corcoran 0, Mahuna 2, Brothers 15, Lokeno 13, Dalton 2, Hicks 3, Runberg 11, Murphy 13. Totals: 25-43 13-22 67.
Klamath Union 7 7 14 16 — 44
Crater 19 20 10 18 — 67
3-point goals — Klamath Union 4 (Brooks 1, Lundy 1, Bartolomei 1, Wilder 1), Crater 4 (Brothers 1, Lokeno 2, Hicks 1).
JV score — Crater 62, Klamath Union 48.
Reach sports reporter Frank Silow at 776-4480, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org