Delran seniors fueling team’s meteoric rise

Seniors Tommy Murphy and Glenn Morrison have given the Bears one of South Jersey’s best offensive backcourts in 2020.

DSC_0002 Delran basketball is on the verge of having a pair of 1,000-point scorers for the third time in the last six seasons. But the bonus this season for the Bears is that Tommy Murphy (pictured) and Glenn Morrison are a part of a senior class that’s accomplished something no other group of 12th graders has had in over a quarter century: a home playoff game. (RYAN LAWRENCE/South Jersey Sports Weekly)

Before arriving to take over the head basketball coach position at his alma mater, Travis Murphy could count the number of 1,000-point scorers in Delran history with both hands. 

Entering the 2014-15 season, there were eight Bears who had reached the milestone. And seven of those players had accomplished the feat more than 20 years ago.

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At a school where soccer, baseball and wrestling have historically been more successful, Delran basketball has quietly come along in the years since. 

In 2015 and 2017, the Bears had a pair of 1,000 point scorers (Timothy Hunt and Collin Romero in ‘15, Quamir Davis and Matthew Murphy in ‘17). Delran is about to make it three pairs in six seasons as its current prolific senior tandem is halfway there.

Even better for the Bears: Delran’s team is having a season to remember, too.

Tommy Murphy enters Thursday’s rival game against Holy Cross 32 points away from 1,000, while fellow senior standout Glenn Morrison Jr. hit the mark earlier this month. Both have fueled Delran to a winter that’s brought more history to the school: A week from Tuesday, the Bears will host a playoff game for the first time since the mid-’90s.

“It’s been fantastic,” Travis Murphy said. “We’ve always said our goal every year, and it might sound silly to other coaches, but our goal has been to get a home playoff game. Most schools have sectional titles and division titles (as goals), but it’s been 26 years since we’ve had a home playoff game. So to get that, it’s huge, the excitement of the kids to be here, knowing they’re bringing that to the school and potentially have a 20-win season, too.”

Murphy can’t even recall if the program has had a 20-win season before. But in moving the program forward in the last half-dozen years, he’s hoping that mark can be a regular, attainable yearly goal. 

In addition to being blessed with some talented scorers in recent seasons, Murphy has been aided this season with the addition of Garrett Lucas to the coaching staff. Lucas, who is on Delran’s football staff, has brought an infectious positive energy into the gym.

“He keeps this chart (that tallies players) doing the little things: bench energy, taking charges, practice energy,” Murphy said. “And that’s really building the culture of the program. You can see it in practice, that kids want to be a part of it.”

Tommy Murphy, Travis’ nephew, is relishing his senior season. Two years ago, the Bears lost 13 of their final 18 games and finished with a 8-16 record.

Entering Thursday’s tilt with Holy Cross, Delran was riding a nine-game winning streak and sporting a 17-5 record.

“We have a good core group of guys, good senior leaders,” Tommy Murphy said.  “Glenn, Troy (Wells), Ahmed (Johnson), we all work together well. And we have young guys contributing. Justin Smith starts as a sophomore. Mason Williams is the sixth or seventh guy coming off the bench, giving us solid minutes every game. It’s just been an overall team effort. Everyone contributes.”

Glenn Morrison became the 13th player in Delran High School history to reach the 1,000-point plateau earlier this month. (Photo provided)

But the dynamic of having two 1,000-point scorers surely helps, too. Morrison and Murphy, both guards who have played together since fourth grade, are each averaging around 16 points per game and have combined to knock down 96 three-pointers this season.

“We’ve been playing for so long I know exactly what he’s going to do. I know when the ball is going to come to me and I know when he’s going to take it himself, and I’m confident in him finishing as well,” Murphy said. “We’re perfect complements. He’s a driver, attacks the basket and can also shoot the three very well. I’m mostly a three-point shooter. So when he drives, if my guy plays help side he can kick it to me, and it can happen almost every single play if we ran it that way.”

Morrison, who has scored 20 or more points five times in the Bears’ nine-game winning streak, has visions of continuing his playing career next year. He’s had interest from several schools, including Arcadia University, Georgian Court, Bard College, Neumann University and Rutgers-Camden.

“I’m proud and excited; I just want the best for him,” Carlena Morrison said of her son Glenn, who was out of school Wednesday with the flu but managed to play through it Thursday night. “To play basketball at the college level has always been a dream of his and as a mother you always want your children’s dreams to come true. If he continues to work hard I believe it will come true for him.”

For Murphy, his final season playing for his uncle at Delran is also his final year of competitive basketball. He’s entering the Marines Corps after graduation.

“I’ve always been interested in law enforcement, and they kind of complement each other, military and law enforcement,” Murphy said. “I just thought it was something bigger I could do with myself. I mean, I would love to play basketball somewhere else, but I can play basketball (any time) for the rest of my life … (This is) something I can do to help others.”

But before he hangs up the jersey and sneakers for boots and military fatigues, Murphy and the Bears hope to continue Delran’s meteoric rise in the South Jersey basketball scene.

Delran hosts Sterling on Tuesday, March 3 in the first round of a competitive South Jersey Group 2 bracket. Reigning state champ Haddonfield and Camden, currently the state’s top team, are among the field.

“At the beginning of the year, I wouldn’t have thought we’d be where we’re at right now,” Travis Murphy said. “So we’re fortunate to have a home game and we’ll take it one game at a time. (Any) success is a bonus.”

Two years removed from an 8-win season, Delran is hosting a playoff game for the first time in 26 years on Tuesday, March 3. (RYAN LAWRENCE/South Jersey Sports Weekly)
Ryan is a veteran journalist of 20 years. He’s worked at the Courier-Post, Philadelphia Daily News, Delaware County Daily Times, primarily as a sportswriter, and is currently a sports editor at Newspaper Media Group and an adjunct journalism instructor at Rowan University.
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