HELENA —With the season’s first crosstown boys basketball game slated for Friday, this week's 5 Questions visits with Helena High’s Connor Murgel and Cade Kidder of Capital.
Both are junior guards for their respective teams, and both were averaging 8.0 points per game prior to last week’s trip to Kalispell for their Western Conference doubleheaders versus Flathead and Glacier Highs.
Murgel is in his third year with varsity, having seen action at the 2016 State Tournament as a freshman. Last year, the 5-foot-10 hoopster was the Bengals’ second-leading scorer as a sophomore. He averaged 7.2 points, was No. 1 on the squad with 1.8 assists per game, and was second with 20 steals.
Murgel has led HHS in scoring three times this year, with a high of 18 points against Butte in the season’s curtain-raiser. This past weekend, he netted team highs of 15 points versus Glacier and 11 in the Flathead game, while upping his average to over 10 ppg.
He is among the club’s top 3-point shooters as well.
Murgel has competed in organized hoops since first grade, in the Elkhorn League. In the fourth grade in East Helena, he played on the Helena Hawks travel ball team, coached by his dad (and current HHS assistant) Jason Murgel, and longtime teammate Alex Johnson’s father, Mack Johnson.
Connor's dad, Jason, played football, basketball and baseball, while his mom, Chrissy, played hoops and volleyball. Chrissy's great uncle was the late Roger Rouse of Anaconda, who fought for the light heavyweight world boxing championship twice, in the 1960s.
His other sport is track, at which he runs the 200- and 400-meter races, and with the Bengals’ 1,600 relay units.
Kidder – who is the younger brother of former Bruin and Griz great Caleb Kidder and senior CHS spiker and cager Emily Kidder – also plays football and track and field for Capital.
After moving up from last year’s JV, he is in his first season of varsity basketball. Cade led the Bru-crew in scoring during this year’s lid-lifter versus Belgrade with 12 points. Against Bozeman he was No. 2 on the team, netting eight markers.
Kidder is also one of his squad’s best from downtown, having drained seven bombs from 3-point land prior to last weekend. And defensively he is among Capital’s steals leaders.
The 5-foot-11 Bruin roundballer started young on the hardcourt as well, playing his first organized hoops in third grade on a travel team called the Blue Devils. They were coached by his dad, Lance Kidder.
Kidder's father, Lance, played football and baseball, and was an alpine ski racer. His mother, Kathy, played volleyball, basketball, and tennis.
Last fall on the gridiron, Kidder “played a little varsity” football, at the wide receiver position. And with CHS' tracksters, he runs the sprints and short relay, and throws the javelin.
1. Who has had the most influence on your athletic career, and how so; and any older teammates, likewise?
Murgel: Easily my family, on both my dad and mom’s side, they’re always telling me to have confidence. But especially my dad, who coached me for a long time, and pushed me to be my best. Also grandpa Randy (Murgel), last year he didn’t miss a game, even on the road. And A.J. Kanthack my freshman year, he got me in the swing of varsity basketball.
Kidder: My dad Lance Kidder. He’s always there supporting, even if I’m not playing good, he’s right there every time being a positive influence. And (current senior) Matt McGinley. He helps out on the court, and he’s a good leader. Matt keeps everyone calm on the floor.
2. What is your GPA in the classroom, which subject do you like the most, and any favorite teachers?
Kidder: I have a 3.8 GPA, and Mrs. Davis’ English class.
Murgel: 3.9. Not necessarily a favorite teacher or subject, I just enjoy school. But I want to be a physical therapist, so science classes are my best suit.
3. What is it about the game of basketball that you like the most?
Murgel: I just like the competitiveness of basketball, and it’s a fun way to be around other athletes as passionate about the game as you are. I fell in love with hoops as a little kid, nothing would stop me from doing it.
Kidder: I like how fast it is – there’s a lot of back-and-forth action, and lots of changes in the game while you’re playing.
4. What are some of your hobbies away from sports, any summer activities?
Kidder: We go boating at the lake, either Seeley Lake or Hauser Lake. I water ski and surf.
Murgel: Hunting, golfing and wake surfing at the lake with my family, or hanging out with my peers. But even in the summer, I’m usually still in the gym.
5. What do you consider a highlight – team or individually – to date in the crosstown basketball series?
Murgel: Last year we came from behind both times to win. In the second game, Capital hit a shot in the last seconds to get to 48-47, and on the inbounds, I pointed to Alex Johnson just to hold the ball because I knew the buzzer was going to sound. So being with the team in those moments is pretty sweet.
Kidder: Nothing yet, so far.