Shot Callers: Murphy girls’ legacy continues

Cherokee County Schools, Murphy Bulldogs, Murphy High, Team FYN Sports

Former President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”  More than simply words from pen to paper; the concept of accepting the past – and using the present to prepare for the future – is one that many of the greatest franchises in sports history have masterfully displayed.

Locally, there is no better example than the Lady Bulldogs varsity basketball team of Murphy, North Carolina.

The Lady Bulldogs (currently 16-1, 6-0) went as far as the Elite 8 last year, only to come up just short, beat on a last second shot by the eventual state champions.  Head coach Ray Gutierrez believes the hunger from wanting to win it all is a large part of what is driving his team to win consistently.

Murphy junior Aubrey Clapsaddle (23) works defensively to pressure Union County sophomore Brooke Dockery (3) in a game earlier this season. Photo courtesy of Jenni Dixon, TeamFYNSports.

“We have a lot of people back from [last year’s] team that finished with a record of 28-2.  We are now 16-1 and seem to playing pretty good basketball right now,” Gutierrez told TeamFYNSports.  “I think the biggest thing for us is being consistent and staying hungry.”  The team’s only loss came early in the season.  Since then, they’ve been near-perfect.

In fact, the team is doing more than just going out and winning basketball games.  They’re dominating.  The Lady Bulldogs not only own the court when they’re moving the ball offensively, but their pressure and commitment defensively is unprecedented.

“We are averaging 68 points per game and giving up only 33,” Gutierrez shared as he broke down the numbers for us, “and so as coaches we are reminding the team every day to stay focused.”  He went on to explain that he and his assistant coaches are trying to prepare them for “hopefully a deep run” in the playoffs.  There’s no doubt that if the Lady Bulldogs play anything like they have so far this season – they’ll do just that.

Murphy senior Jessica Beckner (15) works to get open beneath the basket during a game earlier this season.  Beckner scored her 1000th career point Wednesday night and will be playing for Young Harris College on a full scholarship next year.  Photo courtesy of Jenni Dixon, TeamFYNSports.

“I couldn’t ask for a better team,” the head coach shared when asked about his talented squad.  “They work extremely hard and do everything asked of them.  We demand a lot from the players and they come in each day with the mentality of getting better.”  He went on to add that whether it is practicing as early as 6am, lifting weights twice per week, or even two-a-day practices: “They never complain.”

Gutierrez concluded, “I’m blessed with good talent but most of all GREAT kids!”

You can catch the Lady Bulldogs in action this Friday night, Jan 26, at Murphy High School as they host Nantahala (Topton, NC).  The last time these two teams met on the hardwood, the Hawks suffered a blowout home court loss to Murphy, 19-90.  The Murphy girls will look to improve their record before returning to region play hosting Cherokee on Saturday (1/27) and Andrews on Monday (1/29).


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