Boys basketball: Tommy Murphy helping Delran to one of its best seasons of all time – Courier Post

Posted: February 27, 2020 at 7:44 pm

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Delran senior Tommy Murphy has led the Bears to their first home playoff game since 1994.(Photo: Josh Friedman/Staff Photographer)

Tommy Murphy rose out of his seat and walked down the aisle of the school bus.

The Delran High School senior was in eighth grade when he saw a friend being bullied several rows up.

Murphy couldnt let that stand.

He came down to the kid and told the kid if you dont stop bullying my friend youre going to have a problem with me, Tommys father Joe recalled. That night, the parents (of his friend) called us and said what a wonderful son we had.

Murphys mission in life is to serve the greater good. He plans on joining the Marines when he graduates.

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I always thought I could be a part of something bigger, he said. I never wanted to show off individually. Id rather show off as a group, so I dont think it gets any more impressive than the Marines or any type of military organization. Anything I can do to help people.

That mentality has always shown up on the hardwood.

The 17-year-old has never cared about his stats, only wins.

This season, Murphy and the Bears are piling up both.

Delran is 17-6 and secured its first home playoff game since 1994. The No. 6 seed will host No. 11 Sterling in the opening round of the South Jersey Group 2 playoffson March 3.

A lot of coaches go, Thats not a big deal, said head coach Travis Murphy, who is trying to determine if the program has ever had a 20-win campaign before. Theyre going for divisions or theyre going for sectionals. For us, its the first really big step. We havent had something for the school to rally around for 25, 26 years.

Its unlikely the Bears would be in this position without Tommy, Travis nephew.

He leads the team in points (377) and steals (42), is second in scoring average (16.3) behind 1,000-point scorer Glenn Morrisonand rebounding average (5.0) behind Ahmed Johnson, and is considered the squads top defender.

Hes just 5 points away from his 1,000th.

He realizes now hes our go-to guy and hes kind of embraced that and accepted that, Travis said. Where other years he was able to defer, now hes our top choice. When we run certain sets its through him, when we run different plays its through him, when we do certain activities on the court defensively, assignments go through him. I think hes embraced that.

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Murphy didnt expect all the personal success hes had as a senior.

His defense, power and ability to penetrate have always been strengths, which he honed against his older, taller brother Matt, a 2017 graduate who was dead-eye from deep and joined the 1,000-point club his final season, and his younger brother Danny, a sophomore whos also a great shooter and was big for his age as well.

I think his game, what he concentrated and focused on was obvious, being able to move quicker with the dribble, be able to create his own shot, Travis said of Tommy, who stands 6-foot-1. Matt (6-5) didnt have to. Wed get that separation with his size, but Tommy does (have to), he has to be able to use that dribble, use that quick one step to get by guys. I think he embraces the effort and the attitude of defense. Defense usually translates into offense, and kind of get into that flow of the game and constantly be that presence for 32 minutes.

But Tommy, much to his surprise, added his brothers ability from beyond the arc this year too.

Murphy has connected on a team-high 67 3-pointers, making at least three in nine of his past 10 games.

I did work on my shot over the summer, he said. I changed my workout routines. Since I was so good at getting to the basket, I focused on that for so many years that I was like, Im already good at this, why dont I focus on one of my weaknesses? Now if I shoot well it gives me different opportunities on the court, pump fake, go by a guy, something like that which I didnt have the past two years.

Neither Travis nor Joe, an assistant on the team, were taken back by Tommys development though. The work ethic has always been there.

He was one of those kids, he was never sitting around, Travis said. There was no video games, theres gym, theres work, hes outside without his dad telling him what to do. Hes cutting the grass, raking the leaves, hes doing these different things. Hes one of those kids where its a little bit different.

Its that drive that makes him a leader and has helped the Bears produce one of the great seasons in program history.

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And the selflessness will help him excel in uniform too.

I dont care if anybody knows my name, Tommy said. I play hard. I play hard on the basketball court, play for my teammates. I dont really play for myself, but if the job needs to be done, if I end up being the scoring leader, thats just because thats what I had to do that game to win. I dont care who scores the most points as long as we win, as long as I back up my teammates. Thats all that matters.

Josh Friedman has produced award-winning South Jersey sports coverage for the Courier Post and The Daily Journal for more than a decade. If you have or know of an interesting story to tell, reach out on Twitter at @JFriedman57 or via email at You can also contact him at 856-486-2431. Help support local journalism with a Courier Post subscription.

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February 27th, 2020 at 7:44 pm

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