The battle between the two unbeaten teams in the Southwestern League exceeded expectations as the Golden Bears adjusted at the half and rolled to a 69-61 win over cross-town rival Great Oak.
After a start that had both teams feeling each other out and looking for advantages, the Wolfpack came out fast and strong in the second period and exploded for 23 points while holding Temecula Valley to just ten to take a commanding ten point lead at the half.
Trailing 35-25 as the third period began, Temecula Valley dumped the man-on-man defense and switched into a zone. The change brought immediate results as the Golden Bears surged back in the period to score 22 points and limited the prolific Wolfpack to nine points.
“We struggled a little bit in the man defense keeping them in front of us,” acting head coach James Profit said. “As a coaching staff we collectively decided to go to the zone and it was successful.”
As the final period began, the Wolfpack found themselves trailing by three as the score stood 47-44. The Golden Bears defensive strategy was working and they never relented. Temecula Valley would score another 22 points in the fourth as the Pack struggled and scored 16.
The Wolfpack was at the mercy of the Golden Bears’ Ryan Schaefer in that final period. Schaefer went eight-for-eight from the charity stripe and silenced the usually loud and spirited Wolfpack crowd. He scored a game-high 17 points. His brother Riley added 14 points even though he sat out most of the third period with a twisted ankle.
Temecula Valley also had Justin Simon and Brian Batchelor score 10 points apiece against the Wolfpack.
Great Oak’s Latrelle Franklin led the Wolfpack with 15 points. Torin Webb scored 14 points and Jeremy Smith had 10. Brandon Presley added 9 points in the Wolfpack’s first league loss.
The game was dedicated to the Coaches Versus Cancer program. It is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association f Basketball Coaches. All teams in the Southwestern League participated in this year’s program. A portion of all proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society.
Temecula Valley will play Elsinore this Saturday at home. They will resume league play Tuesday as they host Murrieta Valley in their first meeting of the year. The Nighthawks are 3-1 in Southwestern League play.
The Wolfpack will be back in the welcoming confines of the Wolf’s Den Tuesday as they host the Rams. Murrieta Mesa is a disappointing 1-3 in league play and can be dangerous when hot. Games begin at 7pm.