Athlete of the Month: Moriah Murray

Athlete of the Month Moriah MurrayBy Steve Svetovich

After an outstanding freshman season, what does Dunmore Lady Bucks sophomore guard Moriah Murray do for an encore?

She gets named to the Class 3A All-State first-team.

Daughter of Joseph Murray and Lynn Plotkin, the sophomore standout was one of five Lackawanna League players who earned berths on the Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State girls’ basketball team. 

The 5-9 sophomore guard averaged 15.7 points per game in her sophomore season for coach Ben O’Brien and the Lady Bucks.

Moriah was the only player to mount a challenge for Player of the Year honors which was won again by Neumann-Goretti senior Diamond Johnson. 

In two state playoff games, Moriah picked it up and averaged 28 points per game. She scored a career high 33 points, including seven 3-pointers, on 10-of-15 shooting in the 65-51 win over Neumann-Goretti. Moriah added six rebounds and three assists. She was 18-for-27 shooting in the two PIAA playoff games. She scored 23 points and totaled five assists in the win over Constitution.

Moriah had a hot hand and hit 11-of-17 from 3-point range in the PIAA playoffs before Covid-19 stifled Dunmore’s bid at a state title.

Moriah humbly accepted the news of first-team All-State recognition. “I am so happy about it,” she said. “This is a huge honor. It is great for this team.

“Both last year and this season were nice. I could not do it without my coaches and teammates. The coaches always had us prepared.

“And I am so happy our freshman Ciera Toomey was recognized as a third-team All-State selection. We play well together and have so much fun. We definitely have a chemistry. 

“I enjoyed playing with Ciera’s sister Victoria last season, too. I am looking forward to playing at Dunmore in the future with Ciera. She has a bright future and we have such great chemistry together.”

Moriah, 16, said she has been keeping busy during the Covid-19 pandemic playing “hoops” in the backyard with her brother Matt, 23, who played four years of basketball at Dunmore.

Moriah is a member of TACT and the French Club at Dunmore. Her future goal is to play Division I college basketball.

For now, she loves going to Dunmore and playing basketball there. “Going to Dunmore and playing basketball is such an amazing experience,” she said. “It is such a small, close-knit community. The community is totally amazing. The basketball experience starts in the biddy leagues and with our parents. I always looked up to the Lady Bucks and now I am one. Our coach is great and he always puts us in a position to win. Coach O’Brien always has us prepared and ready.”

Moriah said her parents always teach her to be herself. “They just tell me to be my own person.”

The basketball stalwart likes listening to music in her spare time and would like to see Roddy Rich, a rap artist, in concert. She has a 90 academic average and her best subject is history.

She talked about what it takes to be a good guard in high school basketball. “It takes a lot of practice. You need to train by yourself. You need to eat right and take care of your body. And a lot of stretching in the gym helps.”

Moriah talked about the effect of Covid-19 and how it ended the team’s run in the state playoffs. “We were very upset, because in the beginning of the year everybody said we were a young team. No one knew how far this team could go. But we put the time and work in and were playing really well. After we beat Neumann, our attitude was that we could win it all. So it was upsetting in the beginning when we had to stop playing due to Covid-19. 

“We did stay in touch though. We did three zoom calls with our teammates and coaches. We all are staying in touch on social media.

“We really wanted to win it all this year for our two seniors, Nora Haggerty and Katherine Hopkins. It was a bummer not to win for them.

“Dunmore is so amazing. I always wanted to be a Lady Buck and always wanted to play for these coaches.”

Undefeated Dunmore Lady Bucks Win Second Straight District Title

LADY BUCKS BASKETBALL

By Steve Svetovich

Victoria Toomey, Moriah Murray and Lisa Tallo combined for 26 of Dunmore’s points as the Lady Bucks defeated Holy Redeemer, 33-27, to win its second straight Class AAA District 2 championship Saturday, March 2, at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Freshman stalwart Murray and the multi talented Tallo hit clinching free throws in the final 37 seconds to clinch the title win for the Lady Bucks coached by veteran Ben O’Brien.

It was undefeated Dunmore’s 25th consecutive win.

Alexis Chapman made a huge defensive play at mid court late in the fourth quarter that led to Tallo making a nice pass to Murray for a clutch 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:07 left in the contest.

Chapman hustled on the play as she deflected the ball before chasing it down.

It may have been the defensive play of the season for the Lady Bucks.

Chapman was also clutch on offense hitting a big 3-pointer to help Dunmore to its biggest advantage, 23-18, midway through the third quarter.

Cameron Marchinkowski hit a 3-pointer for Holy Redeemer to tie the game, 26-26, with 4:17 left in the contest.

After the Lady Bucks (25-0) missed a shot, Holy Redeemer (21-4) looked to take the lead before Chapman came through with her defensive gem that led to Murray’s 3-pointer.

Holy Redeemer had another shot, but missed three of four free throws before Murray hit two with 37.2 seconds remaining.

Tallo added two more free throws with 15 seconds left.

Standout senior center-forward Victoria Toomey, last season’s Player of the Year, and Murray led the Lady Bucks with nine points each in the district title win. Tallo added eight points, four assists and four steals. Gianna Delfino scored four points.

Delfino, an all around talent, had nine rebounds to lead the Lady Bucks. Toomey added eight more rebounds.

Another highlight in the contest came at the conclusion of the first quarter when Tallo, who seems to do it all, took an inbounds pass at three-quarter court, went behind her back at the key and hit on a running 17-foot shot.

The Lady Bucks easily defeated No. 4 seed Wyoming Seminary, 57-19, in the semifinal contest Saturday, February 23, at Marywood University.

Freshman phenom Murray led the Lady Bucks with 20 points and added three assists in the semifinal win.

Toomey, who will play basketball at Rider University next year, and Tallo scored 10 points each.

Toomey, the ultimate team leader, added six rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Alex Wesneski led Wyoming Seminary (15-10) with eight points.

The Lady Bucks now play a first round PIAA state playoff game against Constitution, the fourth seed from District 12, Friday, March 8.

Moriah Murray Making Huge Impact as Freshman

Co-Athlete Moriah MurrayBy Steve Svetovich

With all of the great basketball players in the area, who would ever think the leading scorer in Lackawanna League Girls’ Division III would be a freshman? But she is.

And she is also the leader in free throw percentage (.881) and 3-point shooting (2.8 per game).

Dunmore freshman Moriah Murray leads Lackawanna League Division III with an average of 16.9 points per game.

And it’s a sure bet the local basketball scene will be hearing her name for the next several years.

Daughter of Joseph Murray and Lynn Plotkin, Moriah said she has been playing basketball ever since she remembers learning to walk and run.

Only 15, the talented freshman said she has been playing in AAU travel basketball leagues “all of my life.”

With her team 15-0 (7-0 in the division) at press time, Moriah made an immediate impact on an already strong team under Dunmore veteran coach Ben O’Brien.

“Coach O’Brien taught me to just be myself,” said Moriah. “He told me to never be nervous. Just relax.”

Likewise, the Dunmore freshman guard said her parents teach her the same. “My parents always tell me to be myself and everything will be okay.”

Moriah, who often plays point guard, also averages about four assists per game. A pin point 3-point shooter, she takes pride in excelling at the foul line.

“That comes with practice,” she said.

Moriah currently plays AAU basketball for J.B. Hoops.

“AAU basketball has been a great experience for me,” she said. “But playing for Dunmore on the high school level is a whole different ball game.”

Versatile and hard working, Moriah also is a shortstop-pitcher as a softball player. She has a 91 academic average and is a member of the French Club at Dunmore High School. Her favorite academic subject is math.

Moriah said her freshman year at Dunmore could not be going any better. “I love Dunmore. It has been a great experience so far. I love playing basketball here. Dunmore is such a great community.”

Moriah talked about the success of the team. “We are successful because we trust each other. We have been playing with each other our whole lives. We played three-on-three, biddy basketball and AAU together. Our whole lives we have been together.”

The sharp shooting guard said she enjoys music and would like to see Travis Scott in concert.

Moriah said one of her goals is to play college basketball.

Her immediate goals? “That would be to keep getting better one game at a time. We just want to keep getting better and go as far as we can. We can really get it all together if we do that.”

And the simple reason for her own success as a starting freshman guard on the best girls’ basketball team in the area? 

“Practice a lot.”