She stars on the tennis court, she exceeds academically, and she was voted as this year’s Homecoming Queen at Prairiland High School. Lady Patriots senior Hannah Murdock also leads the varsity girls basketball team as a post who can do it all on both ends of the court. From her first days on the court to the midst of district play as a senior, Hannah has gained physicality, strength, and skill. Before she developed into the caliber of player she is today, Hannah put in the work to rise to the level she is currently at today.
“When I first started playing I was not a post player on the inside, I was more of a backup post,” Hannah said. “I think I’ve definitely been able to grow with my time working around the basket and stuff, and I definitely feel like my confidence has grown. I think it’s helped me finish games really well and not give up.”
The cornerstone of a strong and historic foundation
As her confidence has blossomed so has the Lady Patriots’ team chemistry. The group has several years of experience together both on and off the court, which has been integral to the team’s recent string of success.
“I think being with the group I’ve grown up with is why we’ve gone so far,” Hannah said. “We’re all so close to each other and we can all joke with each other outside of sports. I think just being close to each other at a small school, where we will be playing on other sports teams together, helps us grow close so we can accomplish all of these things.”
Impressively, Hannah is in her fourth year as a varsity starter in the Lady Patriots basketball program as a senior. In her first three seasons, Hannah competed with her Prairiland teammates in the vaunted “district of doom” which included frequent state contenders Mt. Vernon, Chapel Hill, and Winnsboro. In spite of the stiff competition, Hannah and her team raised their level of play each season, which all came together last year.
As a junior, Hannah led Prairiland to the playoffs for the first time since 2017, and she and the Lady Patriots made the most of their opportunity with a historic run. Prairiland advanced to the regional quarterfinals and, although it bowed out to Chapel Hill in that game 58-41, it was the first time the Lady Patriots basketball program reached the third round of the playoffs since 1993. Furthermore, Hannah attributes all of their collective successes to what is gained in tough but organized and productive practices orchestrated by head coach Callie Tucker.
“Our work ethic and everything we do in games all start in our practices,” Hannah said. “I always give it my best in drills and try to be the loud one and communicate as much as I can to help get others to communicate, too. When you’re communicating, everything just flows better.”
Building a promising present and bright future
Considering what they were able to do against the top competition, Hannah felt confident in how she and her team stacked up in a newly aligned district that includes newcomers Edgewood, Emory Rains, Grand Saline, and Lone Oak.
“We’ve already seen and played through the worst, so I think we can handle anything other than that,” Hannah said. “We went in expecting the worst and, once we got through that first game and saw we could compete with them, we knew that we could hang with these teams and move higher in the standings.”
Less is not always more
Many people believe that things come cheaper if you purchase by the dozen. However, that is not always the case. In some cases, things and people can come in packages of 12 and not lose quality — or a competitive edge — across the board.
“So, I have a lot of family members. I am number 11 out of 12. It gets really competitive when we are all in the gym together,” Hannah said. “We can make two teams with six on each and it just turns into fights and — it gets really bad. But, it’s always really fun.”
As she powers her team through another successful season, Hannah knows that she must use both her power and her craft to her advantage to overcome even the tallest of obstacles to assist her playoff-bound Lady Patriots squad most effectively.
“Playing Chisum this year has been humbling for me,” Hannah said. “Playing those stronger, bigger girls like Harmony (Marsh) makes me realize that I’m not just going to be able to power through everybody. I have to actually put those moves in that I’ve practiced and do the extra work to score those baskets. It’s not going to be easy all the time.”
Remembering what is important through it all
After a rollercoaster year like 2020 where stress, loss, and the importance of mental health have all come to the forefront, Hannah knows she has two major places of refuge to both find the joy in her life and dismiss any unrest and negativity.
“I’d definitely say my family is my happy place because any time I stress out or anything, they’re always there for me,” Hannah said. “Another place I go to is the gym. Being in the gym — sometimes I just walk through there during school — with my family is nice, too. They’re always up in the stands supporting me and being with them makes me happy — I always have a great time with them.”
Basketball has brought Hannah joy, relationships, character qualities, and growth since she first picked up a basketball. Although she is mostly all-business, Hannah has had her share of laughs during her time as a Lady Patriot, with one particular memory involving some unfortunate aftermath during a game of Twister. There was not a dry eye in the room most of the night, but two girls endured a spill that simply could not be forgotten.
“One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had was during a team bonding night at a girl’s house my freshman year,” Hannah said. “We were playing Twister that night. We were all laughing and having a great time, and we were laughing so hard because one of the girls there peed on another girl. I won’t use names but it was hilarious.”