The Nighthawks Head to the CIF Playoffs Under New Head Coach Brian Wethers for the First Time Since 2015
It was another epic battle between arch rivals Murrieta Valley and Vista Murrieta. The Nighthawks held off a Bronco charge at the end of regulation to hang on to a 57-54 victory Friday night in front of a packed house of screaming fans from both schools.
Vista Murrieta jumped out to a 15-12 lead in the first period. The Nighthawks battled back to make it 28-26 by halftime. By the start of the decisive fourth period Murrieta Valley had whittled the Bronco lead down to a point…41-40.
Damien Ruiz took control of the Nighthawk attack in the final quarter. The freshman scored 10 points in the quarter to lift the Nighthawks to a 57-54 victory.
The Broncos had a chance to tie it all up with a 3-pointer with under 4 seconds, but the Nighthawk defense rose to the occasion and shut down the threat.
The victory sends Murrieta Valley into the 2019 CIF Southern Section playoffs. The Nighthawks have not been in a CIF game since 2015, when they were eliminated in the first round by Elsinore.
Ruiz ended the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Nighthawks. Emilio Valencia added 13 points. The junior play maker also grabbed 11 rebounds. Senior Kyle Greeley led Murrieta Valley with 23 rebounds. He also scored 9 points.
Junior guard Ryan Larson added another 8 points for MV while senior Anthony Montion scored 6. Italian import Nico Giuletti grabbed 10 rebounds for the Nighthawks and scored 4 points. Junior Hudson Brower shined on defense while scoring 2 points.
Vista Murrieta fought hard until the final buzzer. Mekhi Hill scored 15 points to lead the Broncos. The senior also had 18 rebounds in the game. Sophomore Kevin Lincoln added 9 points and senior Trevon Ridley 7.
Seniors Alec Testerman and Jonah Rucker scored 6 and 5 points for the Broncos. Senior Thomas Fitzgerald and freshman Maurier Tablada scored 4 points each and senior Jackson Rucker 3.
“I have to tip my hat to Vista Murrieta” said Nighthawk Coach Brian Wethers. “The Broncos came out and gave everything they had…Coach Rucker had a good plan to beat us and I know just how competitive he is”.
“I’m very proud of my guys for coming back after a tough loss on Wednesday night…to keep chipping away and pull out the win” added Wethers.
In other Southwestern league action, Temecula Valley won it’s fourth consecutive league Championship last night. The Golden Bears scored 27 points in the fourth quarter to put Murrieta Mesa away 80-71. Great Oak crushed Chaparral 76-45 in their season finale.
The CIF Southern Section Playoff schedule will be announced Sunday. All six Southwestern league teams might be qualified for the post season tournament. Right now, Temecula Valley, Great Oak and Murrieta Valley are definitely in.
Murrieta Valley 12 14 14 17 57
Southwestern League Standings
Temecula Valley 9-1
Great Oak 8-2
Murrieta Valley 5-5
Murrieta Mesa 4-6
Vista Murrieta 2-8