One of twelve children, Hannah Murdock knows a thing or two about competition. This year, she put those hard lessons she learned on the blacktop to use, turning in an absolutely dominant performance all season long for the Prairiland Lady Patriots that earned her honors as the Red River Valley All-Area MVP.
“We’re a sports-oriented family, so we’re always outside playing games,” Murdock said. “I’ve been playing my whole life. I got started when I was really young, with Little Dribblers, and I’d definitely say that it’s them who got me started in my basketball career.”
With so many siblings, there are enough for two full teams when the Murdock family plays pickup games. Games can often get heated and intense, though Murdock said that intensity has helped her on the court for the Lady Patriots.
The second-youngest child in her family, Murdock said all of her siblings have also played basketball for Prairiland, and much of her skills were learned from them, she said.
“They didn’t all love it,” Murdock said with a chuckle. “But the ones who did taught me a lot of stuff and helped me learn the game. … A lot of what they taught me was toughness and things like that, too.
“It’s really nice to have people who already know what they’re doing to teach me.”
A physical post player, Murdock was able to impose her will offensively for the Lady Patriots this season. She was the team’s most reliable scorer, averaging 12 points per game.
Murdock possesses strong handles and post moves that allow her to have the advantage over most defenders she faced. And when players couldn’t slow her, they sent her to the free throw line, where she was also able to score with efficiency this past season.
“She’s got a lot of weapons,” head coach Callie Tucker said. “There are lots of possessions where we just get the ball down low to her and feed the beast, as I like to say.”
As dominant as Murdock was on the offensive end for Prairiland, she said her biggest prowess was on the other end of the court, playing defense.
“I prefer to play defense, actually,” she said. “I think it’s big to get people out of the paint, and that’s kind of my job, to make sure their post players are out of their comfort zone.”
Murdock established herself as one of the best defensive players in the Red River Valley last year, averaging double-digit rebounds per game, more than two steals per game, and also contributing a hefty dose of blocks as well.
And though Murdock shines offensively and defensively, Tucker said her impact is felt still further beyond what the statistics show.
“With Hannah, it’s more than just stats,” the coach said. “She’s the first one to help a teammate up when they fall, she’s the one who will calm the team when the other guys get on a run and says ‘Let’s go,’ when coming out of a huddle.
“The biggest thing with her is just her mentality. She’s got the drive to get it done. She’s the teammate every player wants, and the player every coach wants.”
Preparation is key for Murdock, and she sets three goals for herself before each game after scouting the other team.
“I always have a particular player I need to shut down, and some games I know I need to be the scorer because of matchups,” Murdock said. “Those are the types of goals I set.”
Impressively, Murdock was able to make such a substantial impact on the court while playing much of the season while nursing a lingering shoulder injury.
“Right at the start of district play, against Mt. Vernon, I partially subluxed my shoulder, and it’s been a challenge the whole rest of the year.”
The injury limited the amount of time she was able to spend playing the game, which Murdock said was frustrating in and of itself, but it also limited her abilities while she was on the court, diminishing how much she could use the arm.
“My teammates really helped me,” she said. “They were always encouraging me, saying things like, ‘You can do this Hannah,’ and also they supported me on the court as well.”
“She did whatever she had to do to get healthy,” Tucker said. “There were days that she was definitely not happy with me that I wouldn’t let her work out, but she knew we had a good shot at making the playoffs and did what she had to do to get there, and took it one game at a time.”
Looking back on the past season, a number of games stick out in Murdock’s mind as some of her favorites from her time as a Lady Patriot. Chief among them, she said, was the team’s first game against archrival Chisum Lady Mustangs.
The game was a hard-fought battle to the end, with neither team willing to go down without a fight. Ultimately, it was Murdock and the Lady Patriots who came away victorious with a 2-point victory. Murdock was on fire in the game, leading her team with 19 points to go along with 14 rebounds.
Another of Murdock’s favorite memories from the season was the team’s improbable playoff run, which saw the Lady Patriots advance to the third round for the first time since 1993, despite being considered underdogs in each game they played.
In the opening round of the playoffs, Murdock and her teammates dethroned top-seeded New Boston, who went into the playoff game with an unblemished district record.
“That whole experience was really awesome,” she said. “I don’t think any of my teammates expected to get past the first round, but we did, and once we got past the first round, we all said, ‘OK, maybe we can do this.’”
Looking forward to her senior campaign, Murdock said she’s excited to continue to improve, and to have another go at the playoffs.
“I know where I need to continue to work on, and that’s what I’m going to do,” she said. “As a team, we’re losing five really good seniors, but I still think we’re going to be good next year and I think we can go far if we play as well as we’re able to.”