With 44 seconds remaining in a four-point game Friday night at Durango High School, Grand Junction Central’s Myra Murdock drove to the lane, took a Euro-step, scooped above the out-reached DHS defender and scored the basket as well as the foul. It was the play of the game and the one that ultimately lifted the Warriors (6-8, 1-0 5A/4A Southwestern League) past Durango en route to a 41-36 win.
“I saw what the defense was giving me, and in the game, you just have to keep going after it,” Murdock said about her basket. “It’s just an amazing feeling. Everybody did their part, but it was just that play that was just, it was alright.”
Warriors’ head coach Mary Doane wanted Murdock to take it to the rim, but even she was impressed with her sophomore point guard’s poise.
“It was a great play,” Doane said. “It was a great 1-on-1 move, her individual skill was great, and it was a big-time play in a big-time moment. Heading into that play, I told them to get the ball to Myra and get out of the way. She’s quick, was beating their defenders all night and both of those things make it hard to guard.”
DHS committed 42 turnovers in the loss, and despite bringing a 10-point deficit to within two at 1:15 remaining in the game, DHS could not break through.
“42 turnovers and shooting 20 percent from the field,” said DHS head coach Tim Fitzpatrick. “That’s what went wrong; If we limit turnovers like I know we’re capable of, and shoot better, we missed so many layups tonight. You’ve gotta take advantage of those opportunities and we didn’t.”
The Warriors were up by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter and led 32-22 with 7:05 left, but DHS (7-9, 0-2 SWL) was able to chip away, as it forced 10 turnovers in the frame and outscored the Warriors 14-11. Demons’ forward Tayler Dossey scored five points in the quarter, and finished the night with a game-high 20 points in the loss.
“I thought Tayler was great for us, and I don’t know who scored what, but I know it wasn’t enough,” Fitzpatrick said. “We needed a bigger contribution down the stretch, and we forced those turnovers, but we didn’t capitalize.”
The first half saw a close back-to-back battle as the teams exchanged baskets and the Warriors led at the end of both quarters in the half, 8-7 and 14-13 at the break. Dossey scored 11 of Durango’s 13 points in the half. Doane told her team at the break that they had to a better job of out-rebounding and defending Dossey.
“It felt like they were getting a lot of second-chance opportunities, and so I told them to keep crashing the glass,” Doane said. “I thought Nikki Madaris did a great job of shutting Tayler down in the second half. But that being said, we still struggled with our press-break. Durango is a place where you are lucky to get away with a win. That’s us tonight.”
Durango briefly took the lead in the third quarter at 19-18 with 5:23 remaining in the quarter, but Murdock led the Warriors on a 9-0 run, that was finally ended by a Sydney Flores 3-point play with 1:08, which snapped a 4:15 scoreless drought. The Warriors led 30-22 heading into the final frame.
The Demons climbed back into the game and had it within six points when Kyle Rowland cut it in half with a basket and the foul with 1:20 remaining, while Emma Hackett brought the Demon Dome to its feet after it was 36-34 with 1:20 left. After the Warriors made two free throws and DHS responded, that’s when Murdock hit the shot of the night.
“I was confident in my abilities, and thankfully, the shot went in,” Murdock said. “It’s just an amazing feeling to come out with a win like this.”
Durango also got contributions from Maddy McManus and Jael Larson, who each had four points, while the Warriors got contributions from Leah Redding, who had 12 points, while Madaris had five points.
Durango will look to get its first conference home win of the season against Montrose Saturday at 12:30 p.m.