By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo lost the recruiting battle this week for Stephanie Murphy’s services.
Murphy, 33, the Lady Wave’s basketball coach the last five seasons, was offered and accepted a similar position this week at Brandon High School.
“I felt like I was on a recruiting visit,” said Murphy, who played college basketball at Ole Miss. “Brandon did a good job selling me on its program.”
Murphy leaves Tupelo with a 104-48 record in five years. Her best season was her first, in 2006-07, when THS finished 34-4 and lost in the Class 5A state championship game.
Her team finished 18-13 this season, falling in the first round of the North Mississippi 6A tournament to Horn Lake.
“At this point in my life, I felt I needed a change and needed to move on,” she said. “This was the right time to make a move.”
Murphy came to THS from Meridian High School, where she directed the Lady Wildcats to back-to-back appearances in the state championship game. She has a career record of 171-64 at Meridian and THS.
“I had a great time here in Tupelo,” she said. “I thought we were extremely successful. I felt like I left it all on the floor. I was committed from Day 1.”
Murphy replaces Paul Hayden, whose 2010-11 Brandon team finished 14-11.
“I liked the vision Brandon had for its girls program,” she said. “That tipped the scales … the potential to be a top-notch program.”
THS athletics director Danny Porter appreciates the job Murphy did with the Lady Wave.
“She’s one of the top girls basketball coaches in the state,” he said. “She’s been great for our program. We hate to lose her.”
Porter said a search for Murphy’s replacement will begin soon. He didn’t rule out hiring someone in the THS system.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a lot of interest,” he said. “We feel like we have a good, established program.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593