Hingham High boys’ basketball wins league title behind Murphy’s heroics
Adopt the debate.
What is the biggest shot in the history of the Hingham High boys’ basketball program?
Hingham coach Bob Kniffen has a tough argument to beat.
On Thursday, senior captain Curtis Murphy drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to score the Harbormen a 43-41 win over Marshfield, which secured the Patriot League Keenan Division title.
“I would be hard-pressed to find a bigger hit in Hingham’s basketball history,” said Kniffen, who is a 15th grader at Hingham. “If so, I’d love to hear the story about it because it’s a story that I know in 20, 30, 40 years and will be good to tell.”
“I don’t know,” Murphy said, at a loss for words after hearing Kniffen’s assertion, “that’s pretty cool.”
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Continued:MIAA Releases New Power Rankings for Statewide Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball Tournaments (February 17)
You won’t get an argument from Nick Johannes, who got help from Murphy’s winner.
“(After making the pass) the rest is like a movie to me,” Johannes said.
Murphy was the hero of the play, but Johannes was the orchestrator.
With just under six seconds left, Marshfield was at the free throw line for a 1 and 1. The Rams missed the first free throw and Johannes clawed back the rebound on the block. He dribbled across the floor, even stumbling at first, as time ticked away. Just when Marshfield seemed to trap Johannes just beyond half the pitch, he sent him to Murphy across the field behind the 3-point line.
“He’s the guy we want to be in the hands of on the open court,” Kniffen said. “He’s shown a ton of success in that situation over the course of the season. (He) made the right decision and the rest is history.
Continued:If Hingham’s Nick Johannes doesn’t get the basket, Liam McBride will
It was a disinterested play by Johannes. The elder is one of the top scorers in the Patriot League and had a rare stoppage night (he was held to 8 points). Still, when it mattered most, he made the right play.
“It was a winning game,” Kniffen said. “He could have thrown a very low percentage shot, but these guys have been playing together since they were in third grade. They are best friends on the pitch, they are best friends off the pitch and that confidence they have is second to none.
“I can’t stress it enough, the selflessness he showed on this play is clear. Everyone wants to get that shot, but if he doesn’t, having the assist on the shot is just as good.
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Prior to the game, Johannes had missed several key late shots. He planned to deliver the final blow to Murphy, but Kniffen had Johannes go coast to coast for the final blow.
“When Nick got the rebound, I think we all thought he was going to go all the way,” Murphy said. “He’s done that hundreds of times this season, but they planned the game well for him and their guys collapsed on him as he got on the floor.”
“It’s pretty clear when you watch (Johannes) during the game that he’s just there to win. Sometimes he has 25 points and sometimes, like last night, he doesn’t shoot as well, but whatever happens , he always does what he can for us to win the game.
“As soon as I saw it fall into the hands of Curtis, all I thought was, ‘He’s going to get that shot and win it.’ So I was already preparing to celebrate,” Johannes said.
Murphy carried Johannes’ pass in his right hip pocket. He quickly put his feet up and launched a shot with two Marshfield defenders closing in, including 6-6 Connor Walden. He didn’t rush his shot, but released the ball quickly behind the 3-point line. The buzzer sounded just after the ball left his hand. The ball only touched the net and sent Hingham’s gymnasium into a frenzy.
“When Nick got the ball and I saw him start to pass it I looked up and saw about 2 seconds and I wasn’t really sure if I was going to be able to dribble and I decided to be safe.” Murphy said. “It felt clean since I took it off. I had to rush a bit, but it was the same shape I always use and it felt good when I took it off.”
After the making, Murphy was mobbed by his teammates and fan section.
“It was definitely something I had been dreaming about for a while,” Murphy said. “I turned around and I think half of the student section was already on the pitch so I ran towards them. It was cool to celebrate with my friends and it was even more to go to the locker room and everyone celebrating and seeing the coaches so happy.
Everyone trusted Murphy because, well, he just stopped missing outside shots. He entered Thursday’s game having made nine straight 3-pointers. He finished 3 of 6 from deep against the Rams.
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The season didn’t start that way for Murphy, as he missed his first 15 shots from beyond the arc. He started the year just 1 of 19 and didn’t score his first hat-trick until Game 8. Murphy was on the football team in the fall and didn’t practice as much as he did. would have liked for the basketball season.
His hot shot streak now includes ranged marks in 10 straight with several in 8 in a row.
“That’s what makes this competition special,” Kniffen said. “Where he was at the start of the season, slow start, he was never beaten down. His teammates never despised him. He turned it on in the second half.
“You can’t write a script as good as the one we had last night. It’s poetic, it’s something that comes out of the cinema. Couldn’t have happened to a better child.
For the Harbormen, who have now won three league titles in five seasons, it was no easy task to reach the top of the Patriot League.
Just a few weeks ago, Hingham reached the low point of his season. From January 24–28, the Harbormen lost three games.
They got back on track with a double-overtime victory over Scituate, 79-78, which sparked a five-game winning streak.
“It would have been really easy to put your head down and say, ‘This season is not going our way,'” Johannes said of the slip-up. “But that next training after the Plymouth North game was probably our best. We saw the opportunity to win the championship. We control our own destiny, why not us?
the other guys
Throughout the season, Johannes and junior captain Liam McBride carried the offensive load. But with Murphy warming up in the second half and players like John Sula and Chase Mello getting involved, Hingham is rolling.
In fact, Sula was the top scorer against Marshfield with 12 points. Usually a defensive-minded player, he had it on both sides. The Rams were limited to just 11 points in the second half.
“He leads our defense,” Kniffen said of Sula. “Last night was proof of that. That he is the top scorer in this type of match, I’m really happy for him. He led us on both sides of the field. He just brings a level of defense that will help us stay in any game.
“Last night I think a lot of people just wanted to talk about that shot that I hit, but I think John Sula really brought us back into that game,” Murphy said. “He led us in scoring last night and I think he had about 4 or 5 interceptions. When me, Nick and Liam weren’t all hitting shots, John really got us back.
Junior Nick Dubois had a key bucket in the first half.
Mello, a sophomore, started the season on the junior varsity team, but he had some big performances. In an overtime win over Scituate, Mello scored a career-high 18 points. He added 10 points in a win over Whitman-Hanson.
Another key player is Junior Eddie Rochte, Hingham’s leading rebounder.
“He’s a tough boy who does things that often go unnoticed,” Kniffen said of Rochte.
Kniffen says the Harbormen received contributions from all 14 players on the roster, whether on the scoresheet or on the practice field. Chris Hern, Liam Larkin, Shrey Patel and Kameron Goon make up the rest of the senior class. Danny Kent, Johnny Heffernan, Nick Dubois and Conor McCann are the juniors.
“The 14 guys we have are buying,” Kniffen said. “They push each other in training knowing they might not get opportunities in games, but they push the guys to prepare.”
“Even though the rotation sometimes changes, every guy on this team really contributes to our victory,” Murphy said.
What awaits us
In the latest MIAA Power Rankings, which was released hours before Thursday’s win, Hingham was the No. 17 seed in Div. 1. The Harbormen had some catching up to do to secure a home tournament game in the first round of the playoffs, but a tough schedule to finish the regular season could help with that.
Hingham had a rematch with Marshfield on Friday before wrapping it up with non-league games at Brockton (Sunday, 2 p.m.) and at home against Bridgewater-Raynham (Monday, 5 p.m.).
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