The first dunk was a statement.

The second was an exclamation point.

The third - well, some statements call for two exclamation points.

As a sophomore last season, Maurice Murray was known for his silky-smooth outside shot.

Murray still can splash jumpers from distance. But he's not a 10th grader anymore.

Murray, a junior swingman, rose up for three emphatic dunks in the final three minutes to underscore his own superb performance and Timber Creek's 65-43 victory over Paul VI in a clash of top programs Saturday night at the Jimmy V Showcase.

Murray finished with 32 points and also made four steals as Timber Creek, the No. 16 team in the Inquirer preseason Top 25, won its opener in impressive fashion in one of the highlight matchups of the two-gym, 13-game, 26-team event at Cherokee High School.

"He's the face of this team," Timber Creek coach Rich Bolds said. "He knows there's a lot on his shoulders."

Junior lead guard Ricky Martin scored 11 and senior forward Sebastian Keene bounced off the bench and delivered seven points, seven rebounds, and three blocks for Timber Creek.

Senior guard Keenan Wise scored 13 for Paul VI, the No. 4 team in the preseason rankings.

The Eagles, who also were playing their opener, suffered a blow just 2 minutes, 44 seconds into the game when senior guard D'Andre Vilmar went down with a knee injury.

Vilmar, a highly touted transfer from Roman Catholic, had scored Paul VI's first five points. He spent the rest of the game on the bench with an ice wrap on his knee and left the building on crutches.

"I sure hope that kid's OK," Bolds said. "Because he's a good player."

Paul VI coach Tony Devlin said that Vilmar would undergo a full examination Monday but that the initial diagnosis Saturday night was that the injury was "not serious."

The 6-foot-5 Murray was a complementary player last season for a Timber Creek team that won 22 games behind senior guards Randy Bell and Caleb Bowser.

But without an experience senior this season, the Chargers will look to Murray for leadership as well as points.

"I've been doing that my whole life," Murray said. "When I came in, we had some experienced guys and I fell in behind them because it was their turn.

"Now it's my turn."

Murray, who has drawn recruiting interest from programs such as Robert Morris and Quinipiac, among others, was a major factor at the defensive end, using his wingspan to tip passes and disrupt Paul VI's offensive flow.

"I liked our defense," Bolds said. "That's really all we've been working on. Our offense has a long way to go. We made a lot of stupid turnovers.

"But I told these guys, 'Your defense is your destiny. How well you play defense is going to determine where you end up.' "

Murray made just one three-point jumper. He spent most of the game attacking the rim and getting to the foul line, making 15 of 19 free throws.

Late in the game, Murray rose up for a trio of dunks, the first on a follow and the last two on run-outs.

"The first one was a tap and I flushed it," Murray said. "The last two, I got free. The coach didn't even want me to do the last one, he thought a kid was there and I mght get hurt, but I was like, 'No, I'm going to finish with a bang.' "

Timber Creek 16 9 18 22 - 65

Paul VI 14 7 10 12 - 43

TC: Maurice Murray 32, Isaiah Sanders 5, Dylan Elliott 4, Ricky Martin 11, Sebastian Keene 7, Dylan Johnson 3, Tim Schultice 3.

PVI: D'Andre Vilmar 5, Justin Ryder 6, Keenan Wise 13, John Calvello 7, Andrew Zuccarelli 3, Hartnel Hayes 2, Tyshon Judge 7.