Tommy Murr's final home game at Lindsay Lane Christian didn't go the way most people expected. But the end result was the same, as the Lions defeated Woodville 63-47 in Tuesday's Class 1A sub-regional round to advance to the Northeast Regional tournament at Jacksonville State University.
Murr scored a season-low 26 points but made contributions in other ways, with six steals and seven assists. The Lions jumped out to a 22-6 lead after one quarter and were never seriously threatened the rest of the game.
“At this point of the season, we're mostly just focused on winning, however that may be,” Murr said. “Tonight, it fit best and everyone bought into the role where we slowed it down in the second half. We talked about when I do get the ball and drive to the middle (Woodville) is going to help up and double-team. Brady Anderson, Roderick (Watkins), Joseph Graves and Amar Fuqua did a good job of cutting to the goal, and having their hands ready for a pass and getting layups.”
Anderson, in particular, benefitted from Woodville's defensive strategy. With two players closing in on Murr, he found himself open near the goal several times, converting passes into easy buckets and finishing with 10 points.
Fuqua had 11 points, including two three-pointers when he found himself wide open in the corner.
Lindsay Lane normally plays at a very fast pace and routinely scores more than 80 points per game. However, Woodville was determined to slow the pace down, offensively and defensively, which was something the Lions were more than willing to do once they got a big lead.
“We played a real intense game against R.A. Hubbard (in the area tournament final), and they're up tempo and get in your face,” Lindsay Lane coach Steve Murr said. “What Woodville did was a more laid-back kind of defense. It allowed us to get other people involved. We probably had more balance in our scorebook than we normally do. But I like the way Tommy and Charlie (Morrison) recognized that and said, 'This is what we need to do to win.'”
Lindsay Lane led by as many as 23 points in the second quarter and took a 37-16 halftime advantage. Woodville never got within 13 points in the second half, despite Murr scoring only eight points after halftime. Anderson scored six points in the fourth quarter to keep Woodville at bay after they cut the lead to 13 points on multiple occasions.
“We've got all these guys stepping up at the right time, which makes us a more well-rounded team,” Steve Murr said. “We've got a number of guys who can score and contribute in different ways.”
The win gives Lindsay Lane a 23-11 record against a tough schedule and sends the Lions to the Northeast Regional, where they will face Jacksonville Christian at 4:30 p.m. today.
“The schedule we put together for this year was tough, with several 5A, 4A and 3A schools,” Steve Murr said. “To have 23 wins with the schedule we had is impressive. We've gotten a little bit of criticism with people saying, 'Oh, it's just 1A competition,' but that's not accurate at all. We play a pretty tough schedule, and I think that prepares them (for the postseason). We weren't expected to win 23 games this year, and the fact they did that makes me very proud of where these guys come from.”
There were mixed emotions for Steve Murr on the night. He was proud of his team for taking a commanding win and advancing to the regional for the second consecutive year, but there was also some sadness that he had coached his son Tommy for the last time at the school's gym.
“I think in a lot of ways, the past five years have been surreal,” he said. “I've loved basketball my whole life, and I've been coaching for 24 years. To be able to coach the best player I've ever had all the way through (high school) is very exciting for me. I've never had a kid that worked as hard and never had a kid that was as committed to basketball. To be able to coach him in his last high school home game tonight is surreal. It hasn't hit me yet. I'll be thinking about it probably tonight at 3 in the morning.”
Tommy Murr has made a lot of great memories in the Lindsay Lane gymnasium, and Tuesday's finale was yet another one to add to the list. Murr broke the Alabama high school single-season points record with 1,450. It was a record he set last year with 1,442 points.
“There's a lot of excitement, but some sadness (about the last home game),” Tommy said. “But I don't feel any regret or like I left anything here. I feel very complete in my career and just very thankful.”