Closing a record-setting crusade
With the Most Valuable Offensive Player honor at the National Association of Christian Athletes National Tournament two weeks ago, Anna Murr finished an all-conference, all-state and All-American basketball career at Grace Christian.
Murr eclipsed 2,000 points in her junior season and 3,000 points while at the national tournament in Dayton, Tenn. Her 3,032 career points is the new Grace Christian, county, Carolina Christian Conference and N.C. Independent School Athletic Association record. She's been all-conference and all-state four years and is quite likely to be an NACA All-American for a fourth time.
Considering she started her Lady Crusader varsity career as a sixth grader, it makes some sense she was a team leader from her fourth season, her freshman season, on. Humility, though, drove Murr all the way through her senior season, too.
Anna, from much younger than sixth grade, tagged along with dad, and her eventual head coach, Joel Murr, and was a "gym rat" from the start.
"When I was little, I thought the (Grace Christian) players here were the biggest thing ever and I have always just strived to be like them," said Anna.
Coach Murr guided Grace Christian's 2002 and '03 NACA national championship teams. The next NACA national title came in 2011, with Anna as a freshman and earning MVP in Tennessee.
Murr led the Lady Crusaders to two state championship games and was NCISAA Player of the Year as a sophomore and junior. The Lady Crusaders finished 29-4 this season, finishing in the NCISAA semifinals and second in the NACA nationals.
It was after the state tournament run when the emotions of a senior season set in.
"When we got home that night, I called Brooke (Strickland, a teammate and '13 Grace Christian graduate now playing at Southern Wesleyan University)," Anna said.
There was the same competitive drive as ever, but sentimental feelings, too, in the last trip to the national tournament in Dayton, Tenn.
"Dad's been my coach since the sixth grade, so it was exciting and kind of sad at the same time," she said.
"I would like to be remembered as a team-first player. I only wanted to win. That is what drove me. I have been priveliged to play with many girls who felt the same way," she said. "I believe that is why we have been so successful."
Coach/dad admits to being tougher on his shooting guard/daughter at times during the many practices and games. Anna also served as a good communicator between coach and team when needed.
"She's always been able to gauge the temperature of the team, I guess you could say, and helps me to help them" Joel said.
College basketball's been a goal ever since Anna started aiming to follow the best Lady Crusaders. She's had several offers during her senior year, but is still undecided.
No matter the collegiate plans, or future basketball career, sinking three-pointers makes up just part of what's valauble.
"I believe that the lessons I have learned from playing in this program are things that will help me and that I will remember for the rest of my life," said Anna. "Playing for Grace Christian has been one of the biggest joys of my life."
“As her dad," said coach Murr, "I could not be any more proud but it really isn’t becasuse of her ability to play basketball. Her mom and I are thrilled at the young lady she is becoming. I can’t wait to see what God will do with the rest of her life.”