Murphy McIntyre is the last of the line.
Well, for now.
Three generations of McIntyres will have graduated from West Valley High when Murphy, the school’s ASB president, accepts his diploma in June.
A 6-foot-2 post on the school’s basketball team, McIntyre wanted to pay tribute to his family tree. On Senior Night, when most players introduce and thank their parents, McIntyre made sure to include his paternal grandmother, the family matriarch.
“I’m the last grandchild of my Grandma Kate,” he said. “She’s been around for a long time. My uncles played at West Valley, my dad was on two state championship teams at West Valley. My cousin, Craig, played football and basketball here and played receiver at Eastern Washington. My brother Danny played here and so did my cousins Casey Sherrill and Tyler Hobbs. I’m the last of her grandkids, and she still comes to all of my games and has been such a great support for me. I just wanted to recognize that.”
McIntyre’s maternal grandmother also attended West Valley. “Jud Heathcote was her P.E. teacher,” he said – making him a third-generation Eagle. He grew up listening to stories about the glory days from his father, Mark, who played on the state football championship team in 1976-77 and the state baseball championship team in 1977-78.
“The one thing I want more than anything else is to be able to add to that tradition and to that history,” he said. “I know it may not be possible, but it would be so great if I could. I would be so proud.”
To do that, McIntyre will count on a pair of knees with a long history all their own.
“We’ve rebuilt both of his knees since he’s been here,” coach Jamie Nilles joked. “We call them his bionic knees.”
Except these bionic knees don’t make McIntyre run faster or jump higher.
“I dislocated my right knee when I was in the eighth grade playing baseball, and then again during my freshman year,” McIntyre said. “It was the first day of basketball practice, and I was in the gym during lunch playing some rat ball and I dislocated it.
“Then I did it again my sophomore year. I was playing on the JV team and I dislocated the left one in the fifth game. It’s been tweaked since then.”
When it comes to jumping, he said, his knees are the subject of wagering.
“We have a lob play for when we have guys that can dunk,” he said. “The coaches like to take bets on which knee would go out first if we ran it for me.
“If I roll an ankle and have to get taped up, I end up running like an old man. They tell me I should tape the other ankle so I can even things up.”
But run the floor he does, a 6-2 post toiling away in the land of the giants.
“I started out as a guard,” he said. “By the time I got back from my injuries the other guards were more advanced than I was, so I decided to play post. My cousin, Tyler Hobbs, was a post and I figured that, if he could do it and be an all-star, I could do it. I love it.”
McIntyre said he has no illusions of dominating a game with his offensive prowess in the pivot. Instead he concentrates on playing defense.
“Offensively I know I’m not a threat,” he said. “I just go out there and battle. That’s the tradition at West Valley – being an underdog and battling back, overcoming the odds.
“I’m small enough that I can get underneath bigger guys and push them out of position. I consider it a good game if I’ve held my opponent to five offensive rebounds or less and kept him from scoring in double figures. I usually go up against the other team’s best post and I love that. I want that – I want to take on their best guy. I just try to box them out and keep them off the boards and hopefully I don’t look bad.”
McIntyre looked to his family for a little help, too.
“Tyler came back on his break from Montana after the football season was over, and he worked with all of the posts,” he said. “He taught me a lot, but he’s not the same guy who played basketball here. He’s been hitting the weight room a lot. I wish I could have arms like he has now.”
The Eagles start the Great Northern League playoffs tonight – and the team is ready to go.
“We really want it this year. It seems like a lot of people have doubted us this year,” he said. “We’ve had some problems, we lost a player. We’ve had a few games that we should have won that we let slip away. We want to redeem ourselves and reward ourselves for all the hard work we’ve put in this year.”
McIntyre may be the last of his direct line, he said, but he still has family. Cousin Hannah Love is a freshman standout on the girls basketball team.
“She’s been playing great this year,” he bragged. “She’s going to have a great career here.”
He’s going to miss the school after graduation, he said. For the McIntyres, West Valley is the extended family.
“I’m related to a lot of different families here,” he laughed. “I have to be really careful which girls I hit on. I might be related to them.”
Then he thought about what he just said.
“I have a girlfriend,” he recovered. “So I don’t hit on anyone these days. I don’t want to get in trouble that way, either.”
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