CLAYTON — Junior guard Taisha Murphy put the Clayton girls basketball team ahead with a big second quarter and made sure the Comets stayed ahead late in the game Tuesday night.
Murphy finished with 33 points as the Comets improved to 2-0 with a 56-46 victory over Middle Creek.
Clayton was up 17-13 after the first quarter, but took charge in the second quarter behind Murphy’s 12 points in the period and a turnover-producing halfcourt trapping defense. The Comets outscored the Mustangs (0-1) 16-3 in the period to lead 33-16 at halftime.
When Middle Creek got within 38-32 with 2:50 left in the third quarter with a 7-0 run, Murphy scored the final four points of the quarter and then scored the first 10 Comets points of the final period as Clayton built the lead back to 16 at 52-36 with 4:18 left.
“They cut it to six and I just said we need to get the lead back up,” Murphy said. “Over the summer, I had been working on that scorer’s mentality knowing that we had lost two really strong players that we had last year. It was just like I was going to have to take on that role.
“But it’s a give-and-take kind of thing. I am glad that we have a good team and I can get my teammates the ball when they are hot and they can get it to me when I am hot.”
Murphy was particularly effective driving to the basket when the Comets spread it out, beating her defender off the dribble at the top of the key and then driving down the lane. She was also effective from outside, hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the second period surge.
Defense was a key in the second period. The Comets forced seven Middle Creek turnovers and held the Mustangs to a single basket.
“That’s how we want to play,” Clayton coach Marlon Lee said. “We want to let the defensive pressure create some easy offense. In the third quarter, we just didn’t maintain.
“We are going to go with Taisha this year. She is a special player. What we wanted tonight was to spread the floor and let her make plays. She also does a good job of passing the ball.
“It was a good effort. Middle Creek is a young team but they are a great program. We’ll just try to fine tune and get better.”
Middle Creek was led by Holly Hite with 13 points and Ashley Shenk with 12.
Lee liked the way his team responded to Middle Creek’s third-quarter surge.
“We did a good job of building that lead back up and saw some great things at the end,” Lee said. “I think this team has a lot of potential.”