The historic high school basketball career of Lindsay Lane Christian Academy's Tommy Murr came to an end Thursday night in the semifinal of the Class 1A Northeast Regional tournament in Jacksonville. But not before Murr gave the fans one last thrill.
The all-time leading scorer in Alabama high school history scored 56 points to help lead his team back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit and force overtime. However, the Lions couldn't quite complete the comeback, as a controversial final few seconds of overtime helped doom them to an 82-78 loss to Jacksonville Christian.
Murr extended both his single-season and career point scoring records. He scored 1,506 points in his senior season to finish his career with an astonishing 5,716 points. It's a record that won't be broken for a long time, if ever. He scored more than 1,200 points more than the second-highest scorer in state history.
“I've been coaching for 24 years and never had a kid that had that kind of commitment and love for the game to do the little things and do it every single day,” Lindsay Lane coach Steve Murr, Tommy's father, said. “It's very rewarding for a coach, but when it's your own son, you really can't explain it. I'm so proud of him and so thankful I got to coach him in high school.”
Lindsay Lane was down by 11 points with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Lions switched to a full-court press defense to force Jacksonville Christian into some turnovers, which LLCA converted into points.
Murr scored with 1:08 remaining to put Lindsay Lane up by two points, but Jacksonville Christian tied the score in the final minute to tie the game at 66 and send it to an extra period.
Jacksonville Christian jumped out to a five-point lead in overtime, but Lindsay Lane came storming back again and took a 78-77 lead with 30 seconds left.
Jacksonville Christian took the lead again on two free throws by Chase Vinson with 13.4 seconds left. Lindsay Lane then turned the ball over on its next possession and Vinson hit two more free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining.
The final few seconds were shrouded in controversy. Lindsay Lane performed an inbounds play where Murr had the ball in his hands. Charlie Morrison came out of bounds on the baseline and received the pass from Murr, who then sprinted on to the court to receive the ball back from Morrison.
Murr got the ball and was quickly dribbling down the court ready to pull up to attempt a game-tying 3-pointer when officials stopped play for an apparent timing error.
“Tommy was about to going to pull up and shoot a 3, and I was 100 percent sure it was going to go in,” Steve Murr said. “But they blow their whistle because of a mistake, and it took away that opportunity.”
After some discussion, Lindsay Lane was given the ball to inbounds at half court, but Jacksonville Christian was able to set up their defense. The Lions turned the ball over after the inbounds pass, and Vinson was fouled again after recovering the loose ball. He hit one free throw with 0.3 seconds left to seal the victory.
“Our players still finished with their heads up,” Steve Murr said. “It's a good group of guys with character. They wanted to win so bad, but even with feeling that things went against them at the end, they still showed good character and represented themselves well.”
Vinson was the difference in the game for Jacksonville Christian. The 6-foot-7-inch post player finished the game with 39 points and 21 rebounds against the smaller Lions players.
“Brady Anderson did a great job, guarding him, and worked him to death out there,” Murr said. “He was able to shoot over top of us. I thought we did as good as we could've done against him. He just had such an advantage with his length.”
Morrison added 14 points for Lindsay Lane, which finished the season with a 22-12 record.