By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Over the past few years, Murrell has become a household name in the Pioneer Fieldhouse. But with Dylan Murrell graduated and playing at Langston, younger brother Braydn Murrell showed that making big plays in crucial moments runs in the family.
Murrell’s basket from the wing with under 40 seconds left helped the Stillwater High School boys basketball team fend off Tulsa NOAH 68-62 in the season opener during the Pioneers’ first game of the Stillwater Basketball Festival.
“I just knew it was in,” said Murrell, whose only points came in the closing seconds. “I practice it all the time during practice. I knew that if I was given a chance I was going to pull it. Rico made a good pass and it was just there for me.”
The basket may have sparked Stillwater (1-0) to the win, but Murrell had plenty of help. Senior Rico Thompson added 19 points — including four clutch free throws in the final 19 seconds to ice the game — while Carson Teel chipped in 17 points.
“I’m most proud of Rico because Rico has learned how to be a great teammate,” Stillwater coach Michael Davis said. “He got shots for other people and I thought he did that great. Then he did what he was supposed to do. He stepped up and knocked down four big free throws.”
Stillwater jumped out to an early 23-11 lead after the first quarter, frustrating NOAH’s offense with its pressure. But then the butterflies started to set in as the Pioneers were outscored 11-6 in the second quarter.
“These guys are young guys,” Davis said. “No matter how many times you’ve been through it, even as coaches, we still get butterflies. This was a different Tulsa NOAH team. Obviously, they’re a good team. We had a 20-point lead and a lot of guys were playing that didn’t play last year and I don’t know if they knew how to handle it. But they didn’t quit and I’m proud of them for that.”
The Pioneers extended the lead to 18 midway through the third quarter before NOAH went on a 11-5 run to start the fourth quarter. Allonzo Trier tied the game at 62 before Stillwater closed out the game with a 6-0 run.
“It still feels unreal,” Murrell said. “I’m still shaking. But it’s a new day tomorrow. We just have to come back fired up and ready to play again tomorrow.”
The Pioneers will face Southeast at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the Pioneer Fieldhouse for the second day of the festival. The Spartans rolled past Ponca City Thursday night.
Stillwater girls dominate in opener
No LaNesha Middleton, no problem for the Stillwater High School girls basketball team.
Three Lady Pioneers reached double figures as Stillwater opened the season with a 67-54 over Tulsa NOAH win in the first game of the Stillwater Basketball Festival Thursday at Pioneer Fieldhouse.
“It feels great,” Stillwater coach Carl Treat said. “This is the first time that I’ve been here that we’ve been able to win our first game of the season. I was so proud of the way our girls played. They played with effort, they played with intensity and they played together. They shared the ball really well and I was just really excited about the way we played.”
Last season, the Lady Pioneers (1-0) eclipsed the 60-point plateau three times throughout the season. But with a new high-paced offense and shooting 50 percent from the field, Stillwater had no problem reaching that mark in the opener.
“We knew that losing LaNesha, we’d have to work together,” said Stillwater senior Callie Atkins, who finished with 14 points. “She had a lot of our points. So we knew that coming into this year we were share the points more equally and everyone would get an equal opportunity to score as many points as possible.”
The points may have been coming in bunches, but it was Stillwater’s defense that helped the Lady Pioneers open a second quarter lead they would never relinquish. Stillwater outscored the Lady Jaguars 18-2 in the second quarter, including 13 straight points over the final 5 minutes to take a 31-12 halftime lead.
“That basically allowed us to put the game away right there,” Treat said. “It allowed us to get everybody in. I think by the end of the third quarter, I think almost everybody had played. When they did start to make a run all our starters had fresh legs, so we were able to pull away at the end.”
Tulsa NOAH closed the gap to 44-29 early in the fourth quarter before a series of baskets by Atkins finished off the Lady Jaguars.
“Our coaches in practice are always saying, ‘Never stop working, no matter what the score is. Just push, push, push,’” Atkins said. “We never want to slow down, so I think that had a lot to do with the way we finished the game.”
Next the Lady Pioneers will face Southeast at 7 p.m. Friday in the Pioneer Fieldhouse for the second day of the festival.