After busy offseason, top scorer Meghan Murray ready to lead Hampton girls

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Saturday, December 3, 2022 | 11:01 AM


The best player on the Hampton girls basketball team spent this summer getting even better.

Junior point guard Meghan Murray, a first-team all-Section 2-5A pick last season, devoted countless hours to putting up thousands of shots to improve her perimeter game.

“I had problems last year with the 3s,” Murray said before a Thanksgiving Eve practice. “I didn’t shoot them as well as I wanted to, so that was one of my focuses.

“I would shoot for an hour or two hours. All of June, we didn’t play. I literally went to work out every day. I feel like I can shoot deeper than I could last year. And off the dribble, I’m definitely better at shooting.”

Murray and 6-foot senior forward Claire Rodgers are the lone returning starters for the Talbots, who went 18-5 last season, losing to Oakland Catholic in the first round of the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs.

Rodgers, the only senior on the 13-girl roster, averaged 7.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

“I play better when I’m confident and when I’m comfortable,’ Rodgers said. “If I’m nervous, I don’t play to my full potential. I feel really relaxed going out there (this season) and ready to play.”

The 5-5 Murray, who last season led the Talbots in scoring (15.3) and assists (4.3 apg), played this summer with the AAU Pittsburgh Slaam, competing in tournaments in Ohio and Indiana in between her solo workouts.

Already a dazzling ball-handler, passer and finisher, she added improved outside shooting to her arsenal.

“As good as she is, it’s hard to say she’s going to be even better this year,” Hampton seventh-year coach Tony Howard said. “She’s been constantly working on her shot. Her handle is so good. It’s just amazing, her handle and her finishing skills.”

Joining Murray and Rodgers in the starting lineup will be 5-7 junior shooting guard Kathleen Milon (6.0 ppg). Five other players — guards Emma Rick and Haley Hoehler and forwards Sterling Thomson and McKenna Andrews, all juniors, and sophomore forward Ava Galuska — are auditioning for the other two starting spots for the Talbots, who were scheduled to open the season Dec. 2 against Canon-McMillan at the Seneca Valley tip-off tournament.

The top newcomer is 5-8 freshman guard Maria Nyilas.

Most of the juniors have played together since grade school. Murray estimates they lost “two or three games combined” in seventh and eighth grade.

“We were really good,” Murray said. “We worked really well together, and we have really good chemistry. I feel like after we play a couple of games that could come back and we could get into a groove of things.”

Said Howard, “I think we are going to be really competitive on a nightly basis.”

Hampton’s section welcomes some new faces as North Hills and Shaler drop down from Class 6A and New Castle moves up from Class 4A. Departing were defending section champion Indiana along with Kiski Area and Plum.

“I expect for us to be pretty good,” Rodgers said. “We work really work hard as a team. We always bring our effort. … We are pretty fast. We are very athletic and that definitely helps out a lot.”

Hampton will be on the move after Christmas, traveling to the 2022 Beach Basketball Tournament in Pensacola, Fla., where the Talbots will play three games as part of the 22-team event Dec. 27-29.

After that, they will try to reach the WPIAL playoffs for the 29th time in the past 31 seasons. Murray will be counted on to lead the way.

“She is our hardest worker, she’s our most unselfish person, and she’s a believer in team chemistry,” Howard said. “When your best player emphasizes those three things, it really rubs off on the other girls.”

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