For captains Brian Dellecave, Brad Malm and the rest of the Patchogue-Medford boys basketball team, the attitude to “defend homecourt” has a more significant meaning.
Before the Raiders’ home opener against Sayville Dec. 1, the school renamed the basketball court after Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a United States Navy SEAL who posthumously was awarded the Medal of Honor, Purple Heart and Silver Star after being killed in Afghanistan in 2005. Murphy, although surrounded by enemy forces, left his position in dangerous territory to request support for his team under attack and died from the wounds suffered during the personal sacrifice.
Murphy graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School in 1994. The baseball field along with the entire campus is named after Murphy.
“When you’re walking down the hallway you feel pride just knowing what he did for us,” Dellecave said. “And knowing he was in our school, I think everyone in our school feels that.”
On the basketball court, it’s brought extra motivation to the Raiders, who opened the season 4-1 through Dec. 20, including three home wins. After finishing 5-13 last season, Pat-Med is looking to end its playoff drought.
“It’s a huge honor to think that Michael Murphy was even walking around the same halls as us,” Malm said. “Michael Murphy wasn’t scared of anything. He sacrificed his life for what’s right. Knowing that helps our team mindsets not being afraid of any team or any player. Not backing down to anybody.”
While Murphy paid the ultimate sacrifice with his life, the players think of Murphy when making comparatively minutiae sacrifices on the court and in practice.
“Just like Michael Murphy, he sacrificed his life for this country that reflects on us as a team,” Malm said. “Because each player sacrifices his time and effort each day to make the team better and not just for themselves.”
“There’s an enormous sense of pride knowing what he did for this country,” Dellecave said. “Just being able to play on a court named for him gives me and my team a great sense of pride.”