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Life on the outside’s OK

John HartNevada Union's Mackenzie Murphy, a senior, sets up for defense against Kennedy on Wednesday night at NU. The Miners won the game, 72-51.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Nevada Union senior Mackenzie Murphy never was a perimeter threat before this season because she simply did not think of herself as an outside scorer.

Lately, however, she has emerged as one of the top three-point threats the Lady Miners have.



Against St. Francis last week, Murphy led all Miner scorers and had four of the Miners’ six three-point baskets. She also had four treys in a January Metro League game against McClatchy.




Wednesday night, Murphy grabbed three rebounds and added five points, including a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, to help NU beat top-ranked Kennedy 72-51.

“I drove a lot last year, never spotting up to take the three,” Murphy said. “I think this year, it is just confidence. I don’t end up shooting all the time, but the shot has been very good for me.”

Last season, NU coach Craig Strohm moved Murphy from the front court to the wing primarily for defensive purposes. Murphy said the strong offensive showings by Nicole Sheets last year gave her time to acclimate to perimeter play.

Now, Murphy plays the wing as if she has been there her whole life.

“This year, the most improved player would be a tough vote,” Strohm said. “When you look at Molly Heck, she really came on this year, but wouldn’t that be a close call with Mackenzie Murphy.

“She just surges, a tough offensive player who plays physical, and now that high archer is starting to fall.”

At 5-foot-10, Murphy is the tallest of the Miner wings. Occasionally, she will find herself back in the lane, scurrying for rebounds or loose balls with tenacity.

Mackenzie Murphy was not moved to the wing because she is shy of contact. Murphy would be the first person to tell you she is not bashful about asserting her goals, be it basketball, soccer, or, well, just about anything.

“Mac is a lot like me,” Strohm said. “I am not a very good loser, and I don’t want to get used to losing. Basically, trying to win is the central part of our philosophy, and boy, you love having players on your team that are so competitive.”

Strohm said Murphy’s play, not only offensively but defensively, is peaking at the right time. Murphy certainly hopes her play will continue to improve as the post-season progresses.

“Basketball season probably has a month left, and I better be peaking because we still have a lot of big games left,” Murphy said. “And I hope that is true with everyone on the team. The day we come to practice and don’t get better is the day our season is over.”


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