After fouling out with just 10 seconds left and her team down seven on Saturday night, Watertown High School’s star senior center Shannon Murphy still had a smile on her face as she was greeted by her coaches and teammates as she left the floor for the last time as a Raider.
First half foul trouble put Watertown into a deep hole against Hamilton-Wenham in the Div. 2 North Section Quarterfinal. In the first half, the Generals had 15 free throw opportunities to just two for the Raiders.
“It is what it is. you can’t control everything,” Ferdinand said.
The deficit got as deep as 14 points early in the third quarter, but the spirit of Coach Patrick Ferdinand’s squad did not drop.
The third-seeded Raiders (15-5) steadily trimmed the lead to four points, 33-29, early in the fourth quarter when Murphy made a lay up and made the free throw after being fouled. Two free throws each from senior Hanna McMahon and junior Cali McMahon dropped it to just two points. The teams traded baskets, but late in the fourth quarter sixth-seeded Hamilton-Wenham (14-8) got a couple extra and the Generals prevailed 43-38.
“We were able to contain a little a bit from the three point line and the interior players, but their guard penetration was tough,” Ferdinand said, estimating the Generals got 6 to 8 points driving to the basket.
Hamilton-Wenham used its deep bench to apply defensive pressure the whole game. They also used multiple players to stop Watertown from passing the ball to Murphy in the post. In the second half, the Raiders changed tactics and scored a few times when Murphy got the ball and dished it quickly to a driving teammate.
Murphy scored 13 points and had four blocked shots, while Cali McMahon chipped in 13, including seven from the free throw line. Senior Jenna McMahon scored eight and Hanna McMahon had four points. Hamilton-Wenham senior Cate Blatchford scored 16 points, which was the most of the seven Generals who scored Saturday.
The loss ends Watertown’s tournament run earlier than the last several seasons. In 2015 and 2016 the Raiders won the Div. 2 North Section title, and last year they made it all the way to the State Final before losing. In 2013 and 2014 Watertown made it to the Section final before falling.
The crowd rose to its feet to give Murphy a standing ovation during the last game in a Watertown uniform. Her basketball career will continue next year at Holy Cross, but she has been a mainstay for the Raiders during her four years.
“It’s been a pleasure to coach her. It seems like I’ve been coaching her for 10 years, now,” Ferdinand said. “Her work effort, the kind of kid she is, the way she carries herself is special.”
At 6-feet-tall, she came in as a freshman with great potential, but Ferdinand said she never wanted to be treated special. He described Murphy as athletic, humble and a “work horse.”
“What has made her special is she’s been able to be coached and be treated the right way within the team structure,” Ferdinand said. “And she’s never had this crazy ego that (would have) made it not fun to coach her.”
Saying goodbye to Murphy and the other seniors, including twins Hanna and Jenna McMahon, and Alexis Catsoulis, choked Ferdinand up a bit after the game.
“I said I’m not going to get emotional after the game, but that’s a lie. I did,” Ferdinand said. “This group of kids – as coaches we push them hard every single practice. They accepted it. They all came into a situation different from what they were accustom to, or what they had known, and they did a really good job taking that on.
“They shouldn’t hang their heads. They battled as hard as they possibly could. Tough kids. Great kids. Great careers. I love them to death.”