GREENFIELD – Murray escaped its third game of the season with Seymour, taking down the Warriors 58-45 in the first round of the Class 1A District 10 bracket Thursday night.
The Mustangs swept the season series, winning by an average of 19 points, but Murray head coach Darin Wookey knew the final matchup was going to be a “toss up.”
“It’s real tough, especially in our conference, where we were the four seed and they were the five seed,” said Wookey. “Even though we had handled them a couple times easy, just knowing their coach, knowing their personnel and knowing ours, we just knew it was going to be a dog fight to the end. And, it was.
“Every time you play somebody three times, you never know how the game’s going to come out,” Wookey said.
Opening the final matchup of the season, both teams started with efficient possessions and hitting shots with a fast pace.
Murray thrived on the 3-pointers from the top of the key, knocking down four from the top in the first quarter. Overall, the Mustangs hit six first-quarter threes to contribute 18 of their 26 points from beyond the arc.
Reece Held connected from deep three times and Colton Siefkas hit two for Murray to help give the Mustangs a 26-17 lead after the first.
Held finished with 23 points for a game-high, knocking down all three 3-pointers in the first quarter. Siefkas put up 10 points with two threes.
The Mustang offense slowed down from beyond the arc in the second quarter while Seymour started to hit its own shots from downtown.
“We came out blazing, but so did they,” said Wookey. “That was one thing that we kept talking about, ‘we’ve got to get stops.’ We were getting sagged down in the middle too much and not getting out to their shooters. It was a tough ball game, and it was exactly what we expected out of them.”
Wookey said the Warriors were breaking down the defense at the top of the key and were able to kick the ball to the outside.
“They were doing a good job of pick-and-pop with the (Brody) Tuttle,” said Wookey. “He shot the ball really well tonight. … They did a lot of pick-and-pop with him and they were knocking them down. You’ve got to give them credit.”
Tuttle finished with a team-high 22 points and knocked down four shots from beyond the arc.
With Murray falling out of position and allowing the Warriors to get open shots from the perimeter, all 15 second-quarter points for Seymour came from 3-pointers.
The Mustangs responded by feeding the post to a combination of Rile Werner, Jace Rodecker and Brycen Wookey.
Wookey said Rodecker wasn’t playing at 100%, so Murray was “hiding him a bit” Thursday night.
“(Jace) Rodecker hurt his ankle here a couple weeks ago, and he’s a first-team all-conference player, so that really kind of hurt him a bit,” said Wookey. “We hid him a little bit, but he played well I thought.”
The Warriors ended the second quarter on a 12-6 run. Murray entered the second half with a 38-32 lead.
The Mustangs started to hold the ball on offense longer and put more pressured on defense to force Seymour into bad possessions. Murray’s offense, however, struggled to knock down shots as the team became visibly frustrated.
Holding true to the defensive pressure, the Mustangs only allowed 13 second-half points as they continued to hold the ball, feed the post and get to the free-throw line.
“We’ve got good guards, and we know we can move. We wanted to run some clock, especially the way the game was going,” said Wookey. “Typically though, we make a few more free throws down the stretch than we were making. We could have put the game away and didn’t. Allowed them to hang in there, that 10-point mark most of that fourth quarter.”
The Mustangs finished the second half going 3-for-12 from the free-throw line.
Despite the struggles, Wookey is happy with the win and excited to move on to the next round.
“Feel good moving forward. You always want to win that first one,” said Wookey. “Winning a district game is always important. That’s what I tell the kids. A couple years ago we didn’t. Last year we come back and won a game, took Bedford to the ropes. We hope the same things happens Tuesday night.”
UP NEXT – Murray takes on Cenral Decatur Tuesday in Afton at 6:30 p.m. for the quarterfinals off Class 1A District 10.
Murray 58, Wayne 45
WAYNE (45) — 17 15 4 9
MURRAY (58) — 26 12 9 11
WAYNE (FG FT PTS) — Totals —17 4-5 45. Brody Tuttle 9 0-0 22, Prestyn Lawson 4 1-1 11, Angler Parham 3 1-2 7, Carter Houser 1 0-0 3,Lucas Mitchell 0 1-1 1, John Merritt 0 1-1 1. 3-point goals —4 (Tuttle 4, Lawson 2). Team fouls — 18. Fouled out — None.
MURRAY (FG FT PTS) — Totals — 21 10-23 58. Reece Held 5 10-16 23, Colton Siefkas 4 0-1 10, Brycen Wookey 4 0-1 9, Jace Rodecker 3 0-3 6, Rilee Werner 3 0-2 6, Kegan Johnson 2 0-0 4. 3-point goals — 6 (Held 3, Siefkas 2, Wookey 1). Team fouls — 12. Fouled out — None.