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Murray locks down Seymour

Mustangs improve to 5-3 in the Bluegrass Conference with suffocating zone defense

MURRAY — At no point was Murray interested in letting visiting Seymour stick in Tuesday’s Bluegrass contest. 

Murray harassed the Warriors into repeated turnovers, as the Mustangs lived at the rim thanks to picture-perfect passing and ball movement in transition.

The young Mustangs’ decision-making was on full display on their way to a gaudy 47-13 halftime lead and a 73-33 victory that improved them to 7-3 overall and 5-3 in Bluegrass Conference play.

Coming into the contest, Murray had only averaged 54.3 points per game, a total it nearly matched by halftime.

Even Murray coach Darin Wookey is pleasantly surprised with how well his inexperienced team has played through the first half of its schedule.

“Coach (Adam) Broast actually said before the game, ‘can you believe we’re 6-3 at this point and even with a possibility of being 7-3 after tonight,’ I looked at him and said I ‘no.’ We actually went down and discussed that with the boys," Wookey said. "We said ‘guys, we didn’t expect to be 6-3, we’re having a lot of fun here.”

Devin Slaughter keyed an early run with a thunderous block that prompted a transition layup for Reece Held, one of several that Held had in the first half on his way to 10 points in the first 16 minutes of play. 

Slaughter followed that seconds later when he pulled up and knocked down an open trey for an 11-5 lead. 

“Devin plays really good D," Wookey said. "We let him play that 1-3-1 on the baseline and he had to work his tail off going from baseline to baseline.”

The Mustangs flustered the Warriors with a 1-3-1 zone defense in the half court that left the Warriors huffing, puffing and without a coordinated offensive attack.

Murray’s bigs got in on the action, as Levi Snyder and Jeran Cosner traded buckets on alternating possessions before Snyder found Cosner on a block-to-block pass for another easy layup. 

Murray capped a 15-0 run during that sequence to go up 26-5.

“Those guys, Levi Snyder and Rilee Werner and Jeran Cosner are doing a very good job for us anyway for being a little undersized," Wookey noted about the trio that combined for 21 points, most of which came in the first half.

Not that Murray was satisfied.

Cosner and Keegan Johnson anchored a 10-0 run, that was interrupted by a Lucas Mitchell bucket, only for Murray to score the next 11 points for an overwhelming 47-9 lead.

Slaughter's nine points first-half points was topped only by Reece Held, who scored 10, all of which came in the first half.

Sharing the basketball paid dividends for the Mustang bunch that has showed increasing maturity over the last three games, all victories to start the new year.

“That was something that we’ve been working on a lot is being unselfish with the basketball and I thought we made a lot of great plays with the ball tonight," Wookey said.

Murray allowed a few buckets from Prestyn Lawson, who hit four 3-pointers in the second half, but coasted to the easy conference win.

Payton Flaherty knocked down two 3-pointers in each half to reach a team-high total of 14.

Friday, Murray brought to an end conference foe Lamoni's 9-game winning streak with a 51-37 victory in Lamoni.

Murray fell behind 13-2, but outscored the Demons each quarter the rest of the way, including by a 19-3 margin in the third quarter.

Slaughter scored 16, Held notched 14, and the duo combined for six steals. The win marked the second time this season Murray has defeated Lamoni, marking both of the Demons' losses.

UP NEXT — Murray plays at Iowa Christian Academy (1-5, 1-2 in the Bluegrass) Friday.

Running score by quarter

Sey (33) – 5 13 26 33

Mur (73) – 26 47 64 73

Sey (FG FT PTS) – Totals 14 0-3 33. Prestyn Lawson 5 0-0 14, Hunter Parham 3 0-0 6, Lucas Mitchell 2 0-1 4, Ty Campebll 1 0-0 3, Zach White 1 0-0 2, Jaxxson Jellison 1 0-0 2, Sloan Sulser 1 0-2 2. 3-point goals – 5 (Lawson 4, Campbell 1). Team fouls – 7. Fouled out – none.

Mur (FG FT PTS) – Totals 31 4-5 73. Payton Flaherty 5 0-0 14, Reece Held 5 0-0 10, Devin Slaughter 4 0-0 9, Keegan Johnson 3 2-2 9, Levi Snyder 4 1-2 9, Jeran Cosner 4 0-0 8 Jimmy Graham 2 0-0 5, Jace Rilee Werner 2 0-0 4, Chase Werner 1 1-1 3. Jace Rodecker 1 0-0 2. 3-point goals – 7 (Flaherty 4, Slaughter 1, Johnson 1, Graham 1). Team fouls – 6. Fouled out – None.

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