One of the more endearing characteristics of the Wasatch high school boys basketball club this season was its bond as a team. Game after game a different player came forward and produced just enough to lead the Wasps to victory. With such an inexperienced group taking the court this year, that would turn out to be paramount in the team’s run to the semifinals of the state 3A playoffs.
Heading that charge with strong play down the stretch was junior point guard Jeff Murdock, who was named one of the top six players in the 3A tournament by the Deseret News. Murdock earned his all-tournament selection with strong all-around performances in the Wasps' four postseason games.
Arguably the best was in the first round game at home against Desert Hills, where he scored 17 points —nine coming on three-pointers — along with seven rebounds, nine assists and three steals. And although the individual numbers may have tailed-off a bit after that stellar performance, the junior’s leadership obviously played a major role as the Wasps continued to play inspired basketball.
In the second round quarterfinal, Murdock scored 10 points, grabbed three rebounds, added two assists and had a steal. He was again sharp from long range, hitting a pair of three-pointers.
After scoring six points, all on field goals, and snaring four rebounds in Wasatch’s tough 52-50 loss to eventual champ Morgan, Murdock poured in 11 points and added four assists in the 3rd place consolation game against Snow Canyon.
“I was reading the story online about Morgan winning it all, and I was so bummed because I still felt we could’ve beat those guys,” said Murdock, “when I saw my name at the bottom getting picked for that (all-tournament team). Even though not winning state had me pretty down, it was kind of cool to see that.”
Now that the 2013 campaign is over for Wasatch, Murdock, whose only organized sport is basketball, will look towards playing club ball in the spring and summer and improving his game. “There are a couple of us who only play basketball, so we’ll concentrate on getting better as a group this summer and coming back stronger next year,” the junior said.
Off the court situations will also keep the attention of the soon to be senior. “I’m interested to see who will replace Coach Magnusson,” Murdock said. A member of the Wasatch debate team and a possible candidate for studentbody president next school year, he’s not one to shy away from stating his opinion. “We’ve got a great thing going right now, here in Wasatch,” he said. “I’m hoping we can get someone in here who can keep us moving in the right direction.”
For Murdock, though, it’s really all about winning. “I love the game and play it all the time I have all my life. Club ball or just playing at the rec,” Murdock added.
“I just want to keep getting better and win a championship. “I’m so bummed it’s over right now. I’m just anxious to get back out there already and make another run at it," he said with a laugh.
Kenny Bristow is a contributor to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org