The Defending Southwestern League Champion Broncos came into a packed, noisy and highly spirited Wolf’s Den Thursday night and ran into what may be their toughest opponent in league play. The Wolfpack played well enough but Vista Murrieta escaped with a 51-49 victory in overtime.
The mood had already been set in the evening’s earlier game. The Broncos and Wolfpack JV girls had battled to a heart stopping game where Vista Murrieta edged the Pack 54-51.
In the Varsity game, the Wolfpack took control of the game early and took a surprising 12-4 lead in the first period. Great Oak played head to head in the second and the half ended with the Wolfpack on top 23-14 as the Broncos continued to struggle putting points on the board. Blame in on opening night jitters.
Vista Murrieta finally found their rhythm after the half. “There weren’t a lot of adjustments’ said Bronco coach Chris Jones.. “We just wanted our kids to calm down. We were getting the shots we wanted in the paint; we just weren’t making them. We made our first shot of them then went nine minutes without making another. We just needed to relax and follow through people instead of away.”
The third period was key for Vista Murrieta. They scored 19 points and came back to tie the game at 33 as time ran out in the period. The Broncos The Broncos and Wolfpack played head to head exchanging basket for basket in the fourth period scoring 11 apiece.
The Broncos managed to gain a three point lead with 11 seconds left in the game and victory seemed to be in their grasp. Out of nowhere, Wolfpack senior guard Abby Welch nails a three pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Even in overtime both teams refused to yield. It was basket for basket and tough defensive play on both sides as time ticked off the clock. With 26 seconds left in overtime, Yuendie Guridi’s left-handed layup put the Broncos up for the final time and Vista Murrieta clinched the two point overtime victory.
The loss did not quiet the hometown crowd which gave it’s fallen heroes an loud and appreciative standing ovation, knowing that the next meeting might have a different result. The Wolfpack is a team to contend with in the Southwestern League.
“A little stressful” said Coach Jones. ” Thought we were in good position when we got ourselves up by seven. They made some tough gritty plays to get themselves back in it. We lost composure a little bit. Took some perimeter shots when we were beating them up inside. It kind of gave them an opportunity to get back in it. I was happy to get a win here. They’re a very good team. They are every bit as good as any of the top teams we have played.”
The Broncos were led by sophomore Brittney Reed’s 22 points. Jaelyn Brown scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Nasrin Ulel had seven. Guridi would end the game with five points.
Great Oak Senior Abby Welch led the Wolfpack attack with a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds. Welch scored nine of her points in the second half. Senior Roya Rustamzada scored 10 points and hauled in 15 rebounds for the Wolfpack before having to leave the game with a bad cramp in her left leg.
The Broncos are now 2-0 in league play and will travel to Stockton to play in the Saint Mary’s Tournament. They will face Bishop O’Dowd from Oakland and Vanden from fair Oaks over the weekend. They will resume league play on Tuesday at home against Murrieta Valley who are 0-2 in league this year.
The Pack will be back in the Wolf’s Den Tuesday to face the Pumas. Chaparral is 2-0 in league and coming off a 57-30 pounding of Mesa Murrieta.