Racer Mania opens basketball season with a bang

Photo by Chalice Keith/TheNews

Story by Gage Johnson, Staff writer

Murray State’s men’s and women’s basketball teams gave fans its first taste of action for the upcoming season on Thursday night with Racer Mania.

Racer Mania is the season-opening event which allows fans of Racer basketball to watch its teams compete in scrimmage games, dunk contests and dance battles weeks before the season actually kicks off.

The night began with performances from the Murray State spirit groups, as well as an appearance from Dunker, the two-time and reigning OVC Mascot of the Year.

With flames shooting out from the court, the women’s basketball team, along with their new Head Coach Rechelle Turner, were introduced first. 

Turner is no stranger to basketball in Murray, Kentucky.  She played basketball at Murray State for four years, leading the team in assists her final two seasons. Following her playing career, she spent 21 seasons as the Head Coach at Murray High School, and in 2016, Turner was inducted to the KABC Court of Honor and the Marshall County Hall of Fame.

Senior guard Ke’Shunan James, a two-time First Team All-OVC selection and the preseason OVC player of the year, said she was excited for Racer Mania and the season ahead.

“It’s exciting to get to see everyone’s different personalities, and get to see more than just basketball,” James said.  “We have a lot of people that are ready to compete and win.  I’m really excited about this team.”

The evening continued with intricate handshakes and dances from the men’s team and staff as they were introduced.  Entering what will be his third season at Murray State, Head Coach Matt McMahon wrapped up the introductions for the night with an entrance mirroring that of wrestler “Triple H” featuring a theme song, pyrotechnics and all.

Senior guard Jonathan Stark, another First Team All-OVC selection and preseason OVC player of the year candidate said he looked forward to introducing the team to the fans, and is expecting big things this season.

“We just want to go out and have fun and give the fans a show,” said Stark.  “It’ll be the first time the fans get to see us so we want them to be excited and entertained.  I think we can have a successful season, and win the championship for sure.”

After a short speech from Turner, the first scrimmage of the night between the women’s players got underway.  Split into two teams of white and navy jerseys, the women’s Racers scrimmaged for eight minutes with the Navy team coming out with the win in the end.  The men’s scrimmage followed soon after, with the gold team taking the win.

Days before Racer Mania, six student participants  took part in “Dunk Mania” with the top-three finishers getting to face off against players from the Racers.  In the Dunk Contest, Freshman Rob Dawson topped the other two students, and faced off against Murray State freshman guard Ja Morant.  Morant claimed the win in “Dunk Mania,” with a pass off the side of the backboard and a 360 slam.

Murray State’s men’s and women’s teams will prepare for regular season play when the women’s team plays an exhibition game at 5 p.m. against Georgetown College, and the men’s team plays an exhibition game against McKendree University at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 22.