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'We're a family already': Killdeer’s Andersen and Murray fitting in at Bismarck State

Between the time the Killdeer girls basketball team ended its magical run to the 2018 Class B State championship game and now, many things have changed for Cowboys standouts Sydney Andersen and Trae Murray.

Bismarck State freshman forward Trae Murray eyes the basket during a contest against Sheridan College (Wyo.) on Saturday, Nov. 17, from the Bismarck State College Armory. (Photo submitted by Dee Bertsch/Bismarck State College)
Bismarck State freshman forward Trae Murray eyes the basket during a contest against Sheridan College (Wyo.) on Saturday, Nov. 17, from the Bismarck State College Armory. (Photo submitted by Dee Bertsch/Bismarck State College)

Between the time the Killdeer girls basketball team ended its magical run to the 2018 Class B State championship game and now, many things have changed for Cowboys standouts Sydney Andersen and Trae Murray.

The biggest difference for the duo is that they are now college students and members of the Bismarck State College women's basketball team.

Young adults every year feel the vast shift that takes place of exiting their high school days and entering the college scene. It's quite the adjustment, and for Murray and Andersen, that transition has produced new challenges in new surroundings.

"The biggest difference I would say is the independence that comes along with college. You're on your own, you have to make your own decisions, you have to wake yourself up in the morning," Andersen said while laughing. "Just not having your parents there all of the time has been weird, because my parents have always been such a huge part of my life. ... That's the biggest obstacle I've had to overcome, just knowing that they're not there with me all the time. I mean, they are always a phone call away, but it's just different not having them there."

"Coming from Killdeer, it's a big change coming from a small town to a big town. In Killdeer, we had the entire community behind us, always supporting us, always pushing us and there no matter what. And when we went to state in March, I'm 100 percent positive we had the entire city of Killdeer there," Murray said. "Coming to Bismarck, we knew going to a bigger city that that was going to change, but right away, we had a great start with Bismarck and the community here. They're just as supportive here. They didn't know who we were, and they still supported us 100 percent."

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Part of that support system has come from within. Both Andersen and Murray have lived in Killdeer all their lives, but it hasn't taken them long to fit in with their new family. Not only has the coaching staff embrace them, but their teammates, in a matter of months, have created a tight bond.

"Trae and I are getting along so well with our teammates. It's kind of crazy how fast we've got along. Instantly, we all had a connection; not even on the court, it was off the court where we hang out all the time, all the teammates and us. We're a family already; it's been so welcoming," Andersen said. "The majority of the teammates are freshmen. There's only two sophomores on our team, and we've clicked right away. The sophomores have been really good at leading the way for us."

After months of practice and an exhibition game at Presentation College (S.D.), the Mystics opened their season win a 78-58 victory over Dakota College at Bottineau during the MonDak Pre-Season Tournament on Nov. 2. The duo were in the starting lineup for their first game, with Andersen playing 27 minutes while Murray was on the floor for 12 minutes.

"It was very nerve-wracking. It was scary in a way, but also at the same time, it's just like I was meant to be here; this is the feeling I'm supposed to have," Murray said. "I have Sydney right here by my side. I have even people from Killdeer in the bleachers, new people from Bismarck, my friends, my college friends, friends from home came. It's like this whole new mixed setting or environment. It was a cool feeling."

Murray and Andersen are two of four women who have started all 10 games this season, aiding the Mystics to a 9-1 record. After winning its first two games, Bismarck State fell to Miles City Community College (Mont.) 78-76 on Nov. 4. Since the loss, the team has won their last seven games by more than 30 points per game.

"It's more of a mentality of winning," Murray said. "In high school, of course everyone wanted to win, but not everyone on the team was 100 percent for it because all of us are multi-sport athletes and some of us, basketball wasn't their No. 1 priority like a couple of us other players. But when you get to college, its everyone's No. 1 priority on the team and you have a whole different mindset between everyone because everyone wants the same thing."

Listed at forward/center, Murray is the team's third leading scorer at 12 points per game on 54 percent shooting from the field and averages a team-high six rebounds. Meanwhile, Andersen does a little bit of everything for Bismarck State. She's fifth on the team in scoring at 10.4 points per game and paces the Mystics in assists (3.9), steals (3.5) and blocks (0.7) from the guard position.

"On the court, I feel like I bring a whole lot of intensity on defense. I've always taken pride in my defense. It's all attitude on defense and that's the one thing I can control," Andersen said. "If I'm not having a good offensive game, I know that I can always control my defense, my attitude on defense, and focusing on getting stops. I feel like I've done a pretty good job of keeping that intensity in college."

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"In high school in our region, Killdeer was known for being a very fast team-lots of fast-breaking, lots of run-and-gun. We thought we were fast in high school; we thought we were really fast, but then we came to the college level and oh my gosh, we didn't even know what fast was anymore," Murray said. "It's a whole new pace. It's exhilarating. It's so much fun, such an adrenaline rush. It's just up and down, fast-breaking, getting it and going. ... I think that was the biggest surprise to Sydney and I, because we always thought we were fast in high school, but the new level and pace to the game got way more fun."

For all that has changed entering this new chapter of basketball, there's one thing for Andersen and Murray that has remained the same for more than half of their lives: They're teammates.

"Trae and I have been playing basketball since the third grade together, so she's made the transition from high school to college so much more comfortable for me," Andersen said. "I find comfort in seeing her face on the floor with me and knowing that I have her along my side, it gives me confidence in myself and my play. I always know that I have someone that has my back out there. We've been with each other every step of the way."

Bismarck State freshman guard Sydney Andersen drives by a Sheridan College (Wyo.) defender on Saturday, Nov. 17, from the Bismarck State College Armory. (Photo submitted by Dee Bertsch/Bismarck State College)
Bismarck State freshman guard Sydney Andersen drives by a Sheridan College (Wyo.) defender on Saturday, Nov. 17, from the Bismarck State College Armory. (Photo submitted by Dee Bertsch/Bismarck State College)

Related Topics: KILLDEER COWBOYS
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