To the chants of "Once a Panther…always a Panther," Maddy Murphy led her team out on to the court one last time at G. Ray Hale Fieldhouse. Murphy, the architect of West's basketball offense for four years, celebrated senior night Tuesday with a 50-48 come-from-behind victory over Granger.
The Panthers started the game cold, with the Lancers jumping to a quick lead. Granger led by as much as eight points in the first half, fueled by Lile Havili, who scored 18 points and grabbed several tough rebounds. But Murphy found a way to breakdown the Lancers' seemingly unbreakable defense. She went to work in the third quarter, distributing the ball to Kelsey Price and Susan Troung.
Troung hit three 3-pointers while Price, who scored 12 points, made timely shots to bring the Panthers within a bucket. With less than 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter, Murphy drove the length of the court and scored on a left-handed layup to trim Granger's lead to one.
"She's the engine that pulls the train," West coach Ronnie Stubbs said about Murphy. "There is just no quit in that girl."
West and Granger changed leads four times in the final In the final three minutes of the game, with the Panthers prevailing on Becca Aiona's final basket.
"The girls always play better with their backs up against the wall," Stubbs said. "They know that the road to making it to the [5A state championship] tournament is a tough road and they pushed through the pain."
Murphy was relieved that her last home game of the year ended in victory. She said she was not just playing for herself but for other seniors leaving West at the end of the season. Fighting through Granger's physical play, Murphy battled the emotions of finishing her career as a Panther.
"The last game is very emotional, both happy and sad," she said. "I just wanted to take it, to win it for the seniors."
West will most likely face Taylorsville in a state tournament play-in game Friday, but whichever team the Panthers face, Stubbs is relieved that his team will continue its journey.
"You can't win it unless you're in it,"he said.