Home High Schools Notebook: Murphy cool under pressure thanks to early exposure

Notebook: Murphy cool under pressure thanks to early exposure

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Red Mountain junior Kai Murphy (center) grew up in the Arizona State clubhouse and saw what it took to be a successful athlete. (Jason P. Skoda/MyNewsMesa.com)

Kai Murphy has been around baseball clubhouses all his life, exposed to athletics at a very high level.

He’s seen players raise their level of play in clutch situations, seen his father, Pat, make decisions with the game on the line and watched how players handled tough situations.

The exposure to the up and down, good and bad nature of sports while hanging out with Arizona State’s baseball program has allowed the Red Mountain junior to handle game situations with a maturity level beyond his years.

“I think growing up in the environments I did has definitely helped me be successful and prepare for my future coming up,” said Murphy, who made two three pointers and grabbed a loose ball in a recent win.

Murphy has gained more playing time as the basketball season has wore on and should be a key contributor down the stretch for the Mountain Lions.

After that, he will head to the baseball diamond where he has already committed to Oregon State. He had a 1.80 ERA in 11 games including nine starts with 42 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings, while hitting .217 with 12 RBIs.

Playing for the legend

Certain concessions must be made when playing for the Mountain View boys basketball program.

Coach Gary Ernst runs the program with a focus on team play. There will be very few individual stars. Players stay within the system and rarely go outside of the team parameter.

And their focus best not waver when defense.

In today’s game where the focus is on the individual and getting theirs, it is just the opposite for Mountain View players. There will be top players annually, but they must play within the system.

“Everyone gets a chance to score,” senior Adam Pierce said. “There isn’t one player who tries to do too much. You know you have to move the ball around or else he will take you out.”

Ernst, who has 881 career wins including seven state titles in 30 years at Mountain View, was asked what it’s like to play for him.

“It’s hard but our kids never complain,” he said. “We talk to them about just making sure we score. It doesn’t matter who. For the most part, the kids have been pretty open to team basketball. We’ve been pretty successful, so it is an easier sell.

“There have been a couple of kids who were hard to coach. Those state championship teams in 2005-07 could have been difficult to coach. None of them were. They were really team players.”

The idea of using a shot clock long has been bantered about and might come to fruition at the VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge. (Jason P. Skoda/MyNewsMesa.com)

Timing is everything

The talk at the VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge was adapting a shot clock for the event in coming years.

It is the second time the idea has popped up. It never came to fruition the first time with the Arizona Interscholastic Association turning it down. The climate is different now and the belief is approval is a good possibility.

It would bring an interesting element to the game and possibly be a test run for possible inclusion in the Arizona regular season down the line.

“I think the move is progressive,” Red Mountain coach Chris Lemon said. “I believe high school ball should emulate the college game as much as possible – shot clock, three-man officiating crews, two halves.

“If we can offer everything to a player the state wouldn’t see the Howards, Bagleys and others leave the state to play or lose kids to prep schools.”

The biggest hold up has always been the financial cost to get the shot clock in place. Clearly some school districts would have an easier time getting funding than others.

“As nice as it sounds, proper change would take financial backing and the state would be one of the last to make a change,” Lemon said.

Winning ways

The Red Mountain girls basketball team had one of the busiest breaks with two tournaments.

The Mountain Lions went 3-1 in Las Vegas for the Tarkanian Classic and then came home and hosted the Holiday Classic, going 3-1.

The Mesa boys basketball team made the finals of the McClintock Holiday Tournament by winning its first three game before falling 60-59 to Mountain Pointe, which was ranked No. 1 in the last MyNewsMesa.com 6A Coaches Poll.

The Mountain View girls soccer team played in the Arizona Soccer Showcase leading up to New Years.

The Toros went 0-1-2 while allowing just two goals.

– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to jskoda@mynewsmesa.com.

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