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Girls basketball: Murray leads Indians even in the winter

A few minutes into Thursday night's girls basketball game between Sissonville and Wayne it seemed like Indian Coach Rich Skeen could only remember one of his player's names.

"Run Lydia," he yelled. "Come on Lydia, get there."

Meanwhile Sissonville was forcing 12 turnovers on the way to taking a 25-7 first quarter lead. The Indians ended up improving to 2-0 with a 67-21 win over the Pioneers (0-3).

There is no need to feel sorry for the player that was the object of her coach's instructions.

As the lone senior starting on a young and talented Sissonville team, Lydia Murray knows what is expected of her and does not mind one bit.

After all, when it comes to high school athletics, life has come full circle for Murray.

She burst onto the local prep scene after an outstanding freshman soccer season and came out for the basketball team that winter basically to stay in shape and have some fun.

Murray played sparingly that year.

She went on to become the leading goal scorer in Kanawha County girls soccer history while winning numerous individual awards along the way.

But the one thing she wanted most, a state title, eluded her.

Sissonville lost in the regional finals in overtime when she was a freshman and sophomore and in the state title game as a junior.

This fall the Indians lost in a shootout in the regional final with Murray so hobbled by back problems that she was not even included in Sissonville's shootout lineup.

Those losses and the tears they caused are all behind her now.

Her prep career will wrap up with basketball season followed by tennis before she heads to the University of Charleston next fall to focus on soccer.

She has improved a great deal on the court since her freshman year.

"She is a completely different player from last year," Skeen said. "That's why she is starting."

Except for supplying some senior leadership and helping a group of talented freshmen get used to the Indians' style of play there is no pressure anymore.

"A little bit of leadership," Murray said. "But they know what to do."

Budding freshmen stars Madison Jones and Karli Pinkerton finished with 14 and 12 points respectively for Sissonville.

Freshman Brooke Reed, the keeper on the soccer team, added eight points and eight rebounds.

Jones and Pinkerton were the second- and third-leading scorers on the soccer team that finished the regular season ranked first in the state in Class AA-A.

Unlike Murray, basketball is the main sport for them.

"They are awesome" Murray said. "Just great athletes."

Of course, with her college scholarship already in hand, she could have just taken the rest of her senior year off.

"It's a lot different, a lot of fun," Murray said. "I'm glad I'm playing."

Of course her competitive side has not taken the rest of the year off either.

"I do want to try and win the state championship," Murray said. "But I want to have fun and enjoy it too."

The 5-foot-4 guard finished with four points, five assist, and four steals Thursday night.

Sophomore Ellie McClung finished with 12 points for Sissonville while Taylor Bartram led the Pioneers with five.


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