The Murphy Lady Bulldogs can play, folks. They opened the Battle of the States tournament at Towns County High School against a quality opponent, the Lumpkin County Lady Indians. Lumpkin (4-4, 1-1) was coming off a big 51-24 win at home against Mt Zion, after a tough 2-pt loss at Gilmer. Lumpkin’s biggest win of the season so far was against region rival Dawson County (46-39). The fact of the matter is – Lumpkin County is no push-over.
All that being said, Murphy’s varsity girls (6-1, 1-0) may carry the most talented roster TeamFYNSports has seen step onto a basketball court.
Nine different Lady Dawgs scored in the game, as Murphy head coach Ray Gutierrez worked to spread the playing time among his elite corps of hoopsters. Murphy senior Jessica Beckner was easily the TeamFYNSports player of the game, as she scored 24 points with 9 field goals and she went 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
Junior Ellie Martin, one of three Lady Dawgs to hit shots from beyond the perimeter, was the second-leading scorer with 12 points, two of her baskets coming from outside the arch.
Juniors Aubrey Clapsaddle and Bri Moore each scored 8 points in the game, followed by sophomore Sydni Addison and senior Hailey Thompson with 7 points each. Freshman Kaiya Pickens scored 6 points in the game. Senior Brittin Johnson and freshman Sarah Pulliam each scored 2 points for Murphy, respectively.
The first quarter was all Murphy – scoring 21 points and holding Lumpkin to only two points of offense, both points coming by way of free throws made by Raven Chester of the Lady Indians. With a 21-2 first quarter, most expected this game to be over before it even began.
However, the Lady Indians’ offense came alive in the 2nd quarter, ignited behind the effort by Karlee Armstrong, who hit two 3’s and a field goal to put up 8 of Lumpkin’s 18 points. Makenzie Caldwell hit a three-pointer and Clara White put up six points in the effort as Lumpkin fought to challenge Murphy’s dominant start.
Murphy’s offense was as consistent and accurate in the 2nd as it was in the 1st quarter, despite the offensive push-back by Lumpkin County. The Lady Dawgs put up 21 points (again) and led 42-20 going into the locker room at halftime.
Throughout the second half, both teams saw surges in which Murphy would increase their lead, followed by Lumpkin patiently chopping away at it. Ultimately, the margin would prove too great for the Lady Indians to overcome.
Murphy won the game by a final score of 76-55, advancing to face Union County in the second round, Thursday afternoon. Lumpkin’s varsity girls moved to the other side of the bracket, facing Darlington (GA) Thursday morning.