Marcus “Peanut” Murray was arguably the best player on the floor during the first half of Kennedy’s Maryland 4A West region semifinal against Magruder. The senior point guard nearly upstaged a deeply talented Magruder backcourt, which includes JJ Epps and George Washington recruit Nick Griffin, with 11 points in the first 16 minutes, including a pull-up three-pointer at the buzzer of the first frame that gave the Cavaliers a sense of belonging with the defending state champion.
But Magruder made an adjustment on Murray and Kennedy — switching from a man defense to a matchup zone — and the Cavaliers could not solve it. Murray managed another three-pointer, early in the third quarter, but was unable to score the rest of the way in the 62-48 loss.
“I was dominating the first half, so they had to switch out to a zone. And after that. they really shut our team down,” Murray said. “We coulnd’t get the shots that we wanted, epsecially them keying up on me on the top, it was hard to really get my shot off.”
In the days leading up to the contest, much was made about Murray’s matchup with Epps (16 points), and even though Epps didn’t guard Murray the first half, it lived up to the billing. Both players were difference-makers for their teams — but Magruder has one of the best perimeter scorers in the region in Griffin, and the Colonels were better on the interior thanks to Justin Witmer (18 points), who threw down a couple dunks during the game.
The loss marked the end of a terrific senior campaign for Murray who averaged a team-high 17.8 points per game and connected on nearly 87 percent of his foul shots (Tuesday night was the only game where Murray didn’t get to the foul line all season). And he obviously left an impression on the students at the school, which had a large contingent at the game on Tuesday. The crowd chanted “Peanut” for long stretches of the game, including at the end when Kennedy was in a hole too deep for a comeback.
At 5-8 and 145 pounds, he is undersized, but Murray has still garnered recruiting attention this winter. He said that Jacksonville and Saint Francis (Pa.) have shown the most interest — but life after this season hasn’t started to sink in yet.
“[My teammates], all of them have a great work ethic. I just hope the best for them. All of them,” Murray said. “Speaking basketball wise, I hope they can make it. D-1, D-2, D-3, [junior college], any of that.”
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