The Temecula Valley Golden Bears escaped the clutches of yet another league opponent Tuesday night with a fourth quarter rally that stunned the Nighthawks and put them in sole possession of first place in the Southwestern League. TVHS will be at Vista Murrieta tonight for the final round through the league season and are 5-0.
The Nighthawks knew they would have their hands full with the Bears. TVHS had come from behind in two previous games against Great Oak and Vista Murrieta. They easily beat Chaparral and Murrieta Mesa and stomped top ranked Elsinore 75-66.
Temecula Valley found a tough opponent at MVHS. Both teams scored 16 points in the first period and 14 in the second. The Nighthawks broke the 30-30 tie in the third period and led by one 43-42 as the final frame began.
Junior guard Justin Simon scored six points in the fourth quarter to lead the Golden Bears attack. His 15-foot fade away jumper with 20 seconds on the clock gave Temecula the lead. The Nighthawks tried to counter with a 3-point attempt at the buzzer by Mitch Lenhart that just missed.
This was the first time that the Golden Bears have beaten the Nighthawks in 13 meetings. The last time that Temecula Valley won was on February 2, 2007. The Golden Bears would go on to win the Southwestern league crown that season. It looks like déjà-vu this year if they can continue to win with these fourth quarter rallies.
Simon finished the game with 18 points for TVHS. Senior guard Ryan Schaefer scored 12 and senior Dominic Mitchell added 10 points for the Golden Bears.
Murrieta was led by senior Tyler Bilton who scored 21 points. Kevin Padlo had 11 points and Jacob Forte eight for Murrieta Valley.
It was a tough loss for the Nighthawks who are now 3-2 in league play. “It was a great game, a championship-style game,” said Murrieta Valley coach Steve Tarabilda . “One possession one way, another possession the other way. It was a matter of they hit the last shot and we didn’t.”
Murrieta Valley will be at Great Oak tonight to face the Wolfpack who are 4-1 in league play. They are a tough team to play and even tougher at home in the loud and spirited Wolf’s Den. Game time is 7pm. The Girls varsity game precedes the Boys at 5:15.