• Murphy's Jessica Beckner looks to thwart a potential basket from Hiwassee Dam's Alysha Floyd, during action between Murphy and the Lady Eagles Tuesday night. The Lady Bulldogs improved to 13-0 with a 66-47 win over Hiwassee Dam.
    Murphy's Jessica Beckner looks to thwart a potential basket from Hiwassee Dam's Alysha Floyd, during action between Murphy and the Lady Eagles Tuesday night. The Lady Bulldogs improved to 13-0 with a 66-47 win over Hiwassee Dam.

Murphy hoops sweeps Hiwassee Dam in rematch

   Hiwassee Dam – Playing an in-county rival twice in a 12-day span can have its advantages and disadvantages.

    For the teams that ended up on the losing end of things, it provides a chance to regroup and map out a new game plan for the rematch.
    After losing to the Hiwassee Dam Eagles on Jan. 5, the Murphy High School Bulldogs did just that Jan. 17, handing the Eagles a 56-53 loss at “The Nest.”
    Meanwhile, the Lady Bulldogs handled the second showdown much like the first, defeating Hiwassee Dam 66-47.
    For Bulldogs coach Ray Gutierrez, returning to the school where he established a reputation as a successful coach and being able to garner a sweep in the varsity games with the school he graduated from was a big boost for Murphy.
    “These were two big wins for our programs,” Gutierrez said. “It’s been a long week. We played with a lot of energy tonight and once again, the building was electric. We kind of fed off that and I thought that both teams, considering the circumstances and knowing how tired they were and how hard they played, was really good.”
    Hiwassee Dam’s boys stayed one step ahead of Murphy through the first three quarters of action, thanks to some timely plays and thrifty defense. Grant Nichols acquired a rare 4-point play to get the Eagles on the scoreboard in the opening minutes of the contest, which led to a back-and-forth affair that saw Hiwassee Dam emerge with a 12-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
    The battle raged on until halftime, with the Eagles pulling away late on a Hunter Childs 3-point play that came off a steal. After trailing 27-21 at the break, Murphy surged back in the third period and took a 33-32 lead after Jeremiah Clark hit a 3-pointer. Later with eight seconds left in the quarter, Reece Howard edged Hiwassee Dam back out front 35-34 on a 3-point shot of his own.
    Numerous lead changes took place in the final quarter of the game, before back-to-back buckets from Hagan Newton pulled the Bulldogs ahead 50-44 with less than three minutes left in regulation. For every Eagles basket that followed, Murphy had a response. A Nichols 3-pointer with one second left was the final bit of offense in the contest, as the Bulldogs avenged their loss.
    The Murphy effort was led by a double-double from Clark, who boasted 20 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one steal for the Bulldogs. Gutierrez examined the turnaround from the first meeting to the second with Clark.
    “The first game against Hiwassee Dam, he kind of struggled a little bit. But he just shot his way out of it. He had a really big game tonight,” Gutierrez said.
    Newton finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds, one assist and three steals, while Justice Dorsey added eight points, five rebounds, one assist and three steals. Also scoring for Murphy was Thomas Day 6, Micah Nelson 4, Curt Brown 2 and Alex Blount 2.
    For Hiwassee Dam, Childs tallied 13 points and two steals in the game. Danny Tucker also posted 13 points, while mixing in five rebounds and one steal, while both Nichols and Howard had 11 points each to their credit. Tyler Standridge 3 and C.J. Anderson 2 rounded out the scoreline for the Eagles.

Girls roll again
    Murphy established its dominance at the outset of the varsity girls contest, jumping ahead of Hiwassee Dam 11-0 and suppressing any chance for the Lady Eagles to respond with a suffocating full-court press. After the Lady Bulldogs had built a 25-7 lead by the end of the first, Hiwassee Dam started to battle back in the paint and matched Murphy point-for-point before halftime, resulting in a 39-21 Lady Bulldogs lead at the break.
    The Lady Eagles kept pace throughout the second half as well, even capping off a 17-15 third quarter with an Alysha Floyd 3-point shot at the buzzer. Hiwassee Dam continued to struggle on the defensive side of the ball, which allowed the Lady Bulldogs to attain the victory.
    Murphy was led by Emma Stroup, who racked up 27 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks and an 11-of-13 night from the foul line.
    Ellie Martin compiled 12 points, four rebounds, one assist and two steals, while Katlyn Stiles contributed nine points, three assists and three steals. Other Lady Bulldogs to score were Aubrey Clapsaddle 7, Jessica Beckner 6 and Sydni Addison 4.
    “With the girls, you can kind of alternate who’s going to have a big scoring game,” Gutierrez said. “We work with what the defense gives us. Some teams will play a box-in-one on Aubrey (Clapsaddle), which leaves it open for Jessica (Beckner) and them. Some people will pack it in, which leaves Aubrey open. That’s one good thing about us; we’re versatile. I’d like for all three of them to have a big game.”
    The Lady Eagles featured Zoey Jacobsen recording 23 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and a perfect 6-of-6 night from the charity stripe. Floyd had nine points, eight rebounds and one steal, while Kailey Wiggins posted five points, one rebounds, two assists and one steal. Also registering points for Hiwassee Dam was Maci Sena 4, Erika Sena 2, Savannah Wills 2 and Brittany Davis 2.

JV splits
    In a mirror image to the first meeting of the year between Murphy and Hiwassee Dam, the JV Lady Eagles and the JV Bulldogs both won their respective games the second time around.
    The JV Lady Eagles (7-1) pounced for an 8-2 advantage over Murphy (2-5) in the first quarter, before the Lady Bulldogs got their offense rolling by penetrating the Hiwassee Dam defense and only trailed 19-17 at halftime. Murphy hung tough with the Lady Eagles throughout the third quarter as well, until a Sharon Morrow bucket with 15 seconds left in the period pushed Hiwassee Dam ahead 27-24. Late fourth-quarter baskets from Kayley Sells and Morrow then put the game out of reach for Murphy, as the Lady Eagles garnered a 38-32 victory.
    Hiwassee Dam was led by Morrow, who finished the game with 15 points. Other Lady Eagles to score in the victory were McKenzie Haney 10, Kenda Roberts 6, Sells 3, Katie Raper 2, Regan Holder 1 and Maddie Anderson 1.
    For the Lady Bulldogs, Destiny Adams tallied a team-leading 12 points. Also scoring for Murphy was Kennedy Colbert-Carr 9, Calicity Kelley 5, Christin Foerst 3, Regan Ennis 2 and McKenzie Seabolt 1.
    After Tyler Simonds hit a buzzer-beater to help Murphy best Hiwassee Dam 29-28 Jan. 5, the Bulldogs (9-2) did not need any last-second fortunes to defeat the Eagles (3-6) in the rematch, as Murphy picked up a 32-28 win.
    The first half of round two was marred by ball control issues, which resulted in turnovers for both sides. Murphy led 6-2 at the end of the first quarter, before Eagle Willie Tanner putback with 20 seconds left before halftime gave Hiwassee Dam a 10-9 lead at the break.
    More offensive production came out of the third quarter, but the shooting quality improved and allowed Hiwassee Dam to open up a 24-19 advantage by the end of the period. Murphy went on a 10-0 run in response to begin the fourth quarter, topped off by Alex Haines garnering a basket, nabbing a steal and feeding the ball to Da’Vante Murray for another bucket that put the Bulldogs ahead 29-24. Jon McNabb secured a shot at the buzzer to round out the four-point loss.
    Haines had 11 points, three rebounds and two steals for the JV Bulldogs. Reid Beal recorded eight points, four rebounds and three steals, while Hunter Shope secured six points, two rebounds and one steal. Also scoring for Murphy was Leland Larson 3, Murray 2 and Chase Newton 2.
    For the Eagles, McNabb tallied eight points, four rebounds and four steals. Collin Davis posted seven points, three rebounds and two steals, while both Tanner and Ty Simmonds each had four. Drake Lewis 3 and Tucker Linn 2 fleshed out the scoring for Hiwassee Dam.