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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Lady Red Devils players have high hopes for their season

By Eric Killelea

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

For Jaley Wyse, now in her senior season for the Dawson County High School, making the Class A State girls basketball tournament means everything. For Karsen Murphy, her sophomore year has been exciting and offers the chance to help her team pursue their dream of state.

Both Wyse and Murphy bring unique talents and personal stories to the Lady Red Devils.

Earlier this month, Wyse told the Ranger-Review that her parents Jim and Lani signed her up for the Utah Jazz basketball team when she was in elementary school, and then traveling squads during seventh and eighth grades. She remembered growing up around strong, female athletes: Her mom was a member of a state-winning DCHS basketball team in the 1970s, and her aunt Kammy Johnson played hoops for Montana State University.

In her first year of high school, Wyse played on the freshman and junior varsity teams and then transitioned to the starting guard position on the varsity in her sophomore year. “I was sound defensively, but I needed a lot of work offensively,” she said.

This spring, the multi-sport athlete won the 300-meter hurdles and placed in the 100-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash at the state track and field championships. During the summer, she took advantage of open basketball gyms. “With maturing, thing have become clearer,” she said. “I asked myself, ‘What can I do better and what were my strengths?’ So, I started to emphasize on my strength of getting to the basket to score, rather than my weakness of shooting from the field.” In the fall, she received an honorable mention award for her all-state efforts on the volleyball team, which made it to state for the first time since 2005.

Today, Wyse is a 5’6” forward who believes her participation in other sports helps her on the basketball court. 

“Hurdling makes me quick off the dribble and strength training for volleyball helps me with jumping,” she said. 

Wyse still plans to attack the hoop, but she also enjoys finding open shots from the top of the perimeter, on the edges of the foul line, where she hopes to contribute to many victories. “I really hope we make it to state this season,” she said. “I feel we have a good chance of going because the conference is wide-open.”

Last week, the Lady Red Devils beat Glasgow, 41-36, improving their overall record to 2-3. Wyse said that head coach Kayla Rivas has been “a great help to the team in every aspect” and her teammates Savannah Toms, Kasidi Walker and Karsen Murphy “have the height and talent to help us win.”

Looking back for a moment, Murphy told the Ranger-Review that own her parents Wade and Michaela are former college basketball players who also put her on the Utah Jazz and traveling teams. She, too, was raised in an athletic home. She pointed out that her dad is the head coach for the DCHS boys basketball team, and that she often plays a free throw game called ‘White Lightning’ with her five siblings on the cement court outside their house.

Murphy played guard on the junior varsity team in the beginning of her freshman year, before moving to varsity mid-way through the season. 

“It was a big change, since I was going from middle school basketball to varsity in a matter of weeks,” she said. “It was definitely a wake up call. The intensity, the size, the speed. There’s a lot of fast girls in high school.”

Like Wyse, Murphy is a multi-sport athlete. She placed 2nd in the high jump and 6th in the triple jump at the state track and field championships. She also competed in scrimages and shooting drills at open basketball gyms in the summer. Afterward, she and her teammates would train at CrossFit Glendive for strength and conditioning workouts. 

“I didn’t know if I was going to start this year,” she said. “A lot of people got into the gym and trained. So, I kept fighting for my position for the starting five and I wanted my starting spot and wanting to get better for the team.” 

This fall, she trained at her LaDonna’s School of Dance, while competing alongside Wyse on the volleyball team.

Now, Murphy is a 6’0” guard who considers her strength “seeing the court and looking for open teammates or shots.” 

Her weakness lies in her mental game. “I’m trying to work on not shooting much emotion on the court,” she said. “It’s all over my face if I get a foul called on me and it wasn’t a foul. But coach Rivas tells me, ‘Next play. Get out of your head.’ And that helps. I’ve realized, if I want to be successful, I have to have a stronger mentality.”  

Murphy proved her talent by continually being a scorer for the Lady Devils, but she wants to keep improving. 

“We want to learn from our mistakes and be successful this year,” she said. “We’re all on the same mental page, where we all want to make it big. Coach Rivas is great and helps us get better each day. We’re a coachable team. If we continue to work hard, we’ll get where we need to go.”

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