Murray beats Manual for 28th win in a row

March 10, 2016 FieldsColumn

Murray's Maddie Waldrop goes in for a layup against Manual's Krys McCune. (Photo by Jim Osborn)

Murray’s Maddie Waldrop goes in for a layup against Manual’s Krys McCune. (Photo by Jim Osborn)

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — Murray, trying to duplicate Covington Holy Cross’s grand achievement as a small school last year, beat Manual 58-41 in the first round of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Thursday afternoon in BB&T Arena.

It was Murray’s 28th consecutive victory, a streak that includes the All “A” Classic title. Covington Holy Cross swept the All “A” and the Sweet Sixteen last year, and Murray has its eyes on the big prize, too.

Maddie Waldrop led the Tigers against Manual. The 6-foot-2 junior had 22 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and 3 steals.

Alexis Burpo and Lex Mayes had 9 points each. Brittany Lawson chipped in with 8 points.

Murray point guard Macey Turley contributed 7 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds before injuring her ankle in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter. Coach Rechelle Turner expects Turley to be available for Friday’s quarterfinals. “It’s a quick turnaround, but she’s a competitor and she’ll be out there one way or another.”

Manual had an injury setback, too. Krys McCune, a 6-2 senior center, went down with a knee injury late in the first quarter. She went to the locker room and came out on crutches, with a ice pack on her right knee. It was thought to be a torn ACL.

“My heart goes out to her,” Manual Coach Jeff Sparks said.

McCune said when she went down her first thought was she couldn’t keep playing because “the pain was so bad.” After the game, McCune said, “Now I’m just really upset. I’m just really sad right now.”

Turner said McCune’s absence “really changed the game. It enabled us to spread the floor and pressure them more.”

When Manual jumped out to an 11-0 lead, Turner said she figured “most people in the building thought we were going to be blown out. But not our kids. Not our coaching staff.

“Our kids are resilient.”

Murray trailed 29-28 at halftime, but they took control after that with a 10-0 run to start the third quarter.

Turner relished the chance to showcase her team in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2010.

“To be able to play and perform on this stage, and show the state we’re not just a Class A school or just a First Region team, and show we can compete on the highest level. Our kids did that today.”

Murray (34-1) will play the winner of Harlan-Owensboro Catholic in the quarterfinals.

Manual was led by Amara Ballard’s 13 points. Jaela Johnson had 10 points. Tonysha Curry added 7 points and 9 rebounds.