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February 23, 2013

Five-star effort

Rest rare for North Murray starters

The starters for North Murray High School’s boys basketball team have been on one another’s side since middle school.

So it makes sense they are the players coach Tim Ellis relies on to elevate the Mountaineers’ ceiling.

Austen Horn, Brady Swilling, Drew Mosteller, Zach Sanford and Zach Vess all attest that they endure more minutes on the court than most teams’ starters. As North Murray travels to Woodward Academy in College Park today for a second-round matchup in the Class 3A state tournament, the game could be another showcase of those five seniors carrying the season on their collective shoulders.

Because Ellis has entrusted them with that role, they are likely to be the main reason their year continues — or ends.

That’s what the five expect.

“If nobody gets in foul trouble,” said Vess, a 6-foot-5-inch center. “(Woodward) likes to push the tempo, so we might have to get a few breaks in. Yeah, we’ll probably have to play a lot of minutes.”

Earlier this season, Ellis said the Mountaineers’ lack of depth concerned him, and the effect has been one group eating up clock in big chunks.

“I’d say our starting five definitely plays the majority of minutes (compared to other teams),” Ellis said. “... Maybe that’s a flaw on my part. Those five are the ones who will get the majority of the minutes, but at the same time I think other guys have stepped up and proven they can do a little something.”

Jacob Sexton is the team’s sixth senior and in some games the first substitute. Omar Romero, a junior, and sophomore Hinton McConkey make up the eight-man rotation the Mountaineers employ. Still, it doesn’t go that deep some nights, and that hasn’t been the case in games where victory was most crucial.

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