Tracy Murray, California’s all-time career and single-season prep scoring leader, found out that he could not carry the Glendora High School boys’ basketball team singlehandedly to a State title.
Despite Murray’s 64 points Saturday, the Tartans were defeated by Menlo Atherton, 89-83, in the Division II championship game at the Oakland Coliseum Arena.
Murray’s 64 points not only tied his career high but also matched the record held by former Golden State Warrior Rick Barry for most points scored in the arena.
Murray was virtually a one-man team for the Tartans, scoring their first 24 points. His 22 points in the first quarter were enough to hold the Bears at bay, 22-19, going into the second quarter.
“I was definitely worried that he would beat us by himself,” Menlo Atherton Coach Jeff Klenow said. “I had heard through scouting reports that once he gets hot, he is hard to stop, and he was definitely hot.”
Murray started the game by hitting shots from all over the floor. He made four three-pointers in the first quarter, along with two power dunks with Bear defenders draped over him.
“My shot was going well in the first half,” said Murray, who was treated to several ovations by the crowd throughout the game.
He continued his hot shooting in the second quarter, making the Tartans’ first basket. The Bears, however, proved to be a team that was not going to fall victim to an all-star performance by one player.
Menlo Atherton’s pressure defense, led by senior twin brothers Kendric and Cedric Reed, started to wear down Murray and his teammates. The Bears outscored Glendora, 20-15, in the quarter, with Kendric scoring eight points.
“We knew that they were a one-man team,” said Kendric Reed, who finished with a team-high 36 points. “We were worried a little about him hitting in the first quarter, but we new that sooner or later he would start missing.”
Murray did start missing, but what hurt the Tartans more was their inability to make easy baskets off passes from Murray, who was double-teamed constantly.
Murray’s teammates did not make a basket until there was 5:43 left in the first half, at which point Randy Rubio connected with a three-pointer. Apart from Murray, who made 12 of 19 shots, the Tartans were two of nine from the floor. Menlo Atherton led at haltime, 39-37.
“Our coach told us that Murray’s teammates were not good shooters,” said Kendric Reed. “We knew all along that one person could not beat a team of five.”
In the second half, Murray started out cold, and the Bears stretched their lead to 49-43 with 3:19 left in the third quarter. The Bears’ defense only allowed Murray to touch the ball five times to that point.
Menlo Atherton’s 6-foot-6 forward Atiba Williams, who helped defense Murray, started to control inside play. He scored six points and Kendric Reed added eight to give the Bears a 59-49 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Murray knew that his torrid-shooting would fall off after his first-half performance.
“You seldom see people hit for a whole game,” said Murray, who finished his prep career with 3,053 points and the season with 1,505.
“I had to start taking it to the hole once I started missing,” said Murray, who also had some problems at the foul line, making only 12 of 18 free throws.
In the fourth quarter, Menlo Atherton controlled every phase of the game and stretched its lead to 71-53, with 4:22 remaining.
Glendora made a run late when Murray, who dazzled the crowd throughout the game with his no-look passes, got his first assist on a basket by J.J. O’Laughlin. Murray then made a three-pointer and a dunk to make the score 85-79.
The Bears quickly killed the Tartans’ rally as Jason Johnson and Kendric Reed connected on foul shots to close the game.
Murray was disappointed to lose his last high school game.
“I really don’t care about the 64 points,” he said. “I wanted to win so badly, it hurts to go home like this.
“Menlo Atherton is a good team, they are better than I thought they would be.”
Murray’s high school career may be over, but he left memories for the faithful Glendora followers that will last a lifetime.
“Tracy is the best,” said Glendora Coach Scott LeDuc. “He has proven it off the floor and on it. It was great to have the opportunity to coach him, and I feel lucky to know that we have grown into friends. He is a tremendous person.”