Awilda Murphy, Sacred Heart

Photo from The Buffalo News

By A.J. Haller

Following the 2012-13 school year, Holy Angels Academy in Buffalo announced that it would be closing its doors for good. This left several students in search of a new school, including fourth-team All-Western New York girls basketball player Awilda Murphy.

Standing at a mere 5 feet, 3 inches, Murphy doesn’t have a stereotypical build for a standout player, but what she lacks in height she makes up for with an outstanding jump shot. Last season she set a school record with 63 three-pointers. Murphy is hoping to find similar success at her new school, Sacred Heart Academy.

“My transition has been good,” Murphy said. “I love the school; I love the girls that I’ve met. Switching teams, I miss my old coach but Sister Maria has been a good coach, she’s taught me a lot.

“When I was first told the school was closing, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know where I was going to spend my senior year, but I came to Sacred Heart and I fit right in with the girls.”

Coming off of a Monsignor Martin Association championship season, head coach Sister Maria Pares and her team are determined to be just as successful this year.

“I hope that this season will be exceptional because I think we have some very young kids,” Pares said. “If they progress during the season, they’re going to do a great job.”

Pares also commented on the closing of Holy Angels and Murphy’s transition.

“For all the athletes that transferred to different schools it has to be a trauma because it happened so quickly,” said Pares. “We’re a great school and they were very accepting to the students we took. … We play a different style of basketball than the team she was on. I think it took a little bit of adjustment on her part, but it’s been great, she’s really adjusted well. Even with school, that’s got to be tough for a senior to switch over. If the kids weren’t accepting then it would be harder but it seems to be working very well.”

The rest of the girls seemed to have responded just as well as Murphy.

“During tryouts she was a little standoffish and hesitant which anybody would be,” senior captain Jackie Adolf commented. “But she adapted really quick and got used to us, and we’re all bonding now.”

Out of their starting five from last season, Sacred Heart has only one returning player, senior Chelsea Smith.

“I’ve known Awilda since kindergarten, I was happy for her to come here and play,” Smith said. “We’ve been playing against each other for the past three years. … I know she’ll help us this year because we lost a lot of people.”

The closing of Holy Angels didn’t stop Murphy from working hard in the offseason, training three or more days a week. She is hoping that her short career at Sacred Heart is only the beginning of her playing days, with serious aspirations to play college ball.

“I would like to go Division II, but if I get no offers or I can’t get into a Division II school, I definitely will plan on playing D-III somewhere. I will definitely play basketball in college, can’t just give it up!”

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