Junior Justin Murray does his best Michael Jordan impression as he drives between two Warrior defenders on his way to the basket. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
There was a moment of silence Wednesday night as BHHS junior Justin Murray floated through the key with the ball in his hands – just enough silence to hear the swish as the basketball dropped cleanly through the net – before the Bruins’ bench erupted into cheers and the BHHS fans rushed the floor to celebrate the 51-49 victory over the Del Norte Warriors in Crescent City.
The Bruins began the game with an 11-4 run in the first quarter and looked to be in charge of the game before a 19-point effort by the Warriors got them right back in the game with a 23-23 knot at halftime.
The Bruins weren’t able to reclaim their first-quarter dominance in the third, allowing the Warriors to take their first lead with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter. The Bruins retook the lead with 19 seconds remaining and lead 33-32 going into the fourth.
A back-and-forth battle raged in the fourth quarter with neither team able to take a commanding lead until a made free throw by Jake Vaughn in the last 29 seconds of the fourth gave the Bruins a five-point lead.
The Warriors made a quick two, forced the Bruins to turnover the ball on the subsequent in-bounds play and sunk a three-pointer to send the game into overtime with a regulation final of 44-44.
In the resulting four-minute overtime the back-and-forth battle continued with the Bruins getting a lift from Murray – unable to hit from beyond the 3-point arc in regulation – who dropped an NBA-range 3-pointer to give the Bruins a much needed emotional boost.
“I really try to always be confident in my shooting,” Murray said. “Everyone keeps telling me to keep shooting.”
Head Coach Matt Simpson agreed.
“We had a huge talk about shooting with confidence,” Simpson said. “When you shoot to make it, it will be the one you need. I always tell the team that the most important possession is the one you’re on right now.”
Confidence was paramount for Murray when, down by one point with two seconds left on the clock, he elevated from the top of the key and dropped a running jump shot to win the game as the buzzer sounded.
“I didn’t realize that there was that little of time left on the clock,” Murray said after the game.
The Bruins weren’t dependant on just Murray’s shooting ability though, they made adjustments throughout the game.
With junior big-man Calvin Watwood in foul trouble early in the game, Simpson had to make some difficult decisions on defense to guard against the Warriors’ own big-man, number 43, Shawn DeArman.
Simpson put Chandler Dodd to work on DeArman and what Dodd gave up in size he made up for in determination, according to Simpson.
“We decided to let Chandler battle down there even though he gave up size,” Simpson explained. “But, he was right there with him in toughness and gave him all he could. Chandler was a perfect matchup for that.”
The win was particularly sweet for the Bruins as they had lost by two points to the Warriors at home just five days previous and were looking for a little payback.
“We talked about having heart; our word of the day was heart,” Simpson said. “We had to have it and we never gave in.”
The Bruins improve to 6-2 in preseason action and will travel to Myrtle Point on Tuesday.
JV boys basketball
The BHHS JV boys basketball team also claimed victory over the Warriors with a 51-40 final score.