When Monday morning dawned over the Southwestern League this week, it was Murrieta Valley in control of their destiny with Vista Murrieta and Great Oak chasing the Nighthawks in a competitive boys’ championship. However, as the clock struck midnight and league officials turned in their CIF-SS playoff entries, there was a three-way tie for the title at 7-3. Here’s how it went down.

On the eve of Wednesday, Feb. 1, Murrieta Mesa defeated the Nighthawks 64-53 which avenged a 61-57 loss from Jan. 13. Meanwhile, Great Oak and Vista Murrieta played their final head-to-head matchup, with the Broncos prevailing 55-50. That win evened their two-game series after a 55-49 loss on Jan. 13 as well.

Entering last Friday night’s action, Murrieta Valley held a one game lead over both the Broncos and Wolfpack. Great Oak, taking on Chaparral, took a 28-11 lead at the half, never looking back on their way to a 53-38 win. Tony Sheron led the Pack with 27 points in the victory.

Meanwhile, at Bronco Arena, Vista Murrieta defended their home floor with a 71-64 win over the Nighthawks after falling 57-55 on Jan. 18. In that Friday night victory, it was Donovan Ford leading the way with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. Brody Guinn added another 17 points with seven rebounds while Gary Dodson chipped in 12 points with seven assists and five rebounds. Rounding out the Broncos double digit scorers was Andrew Clyburn with 14 points.

Great Oak will get to carry a number one seed into the division one playoffs and has earned a home game against JSerra because they are in a different playoff division than the Broncos and Nighthawks.

Vista Murrieta will host Crespi mid-week as the league’s second place team while Murrieta Valley is the league’s No. 3 seed based on tiebreakers and makes a short trip down I-15 to Linfield Christian (the Ambassador League runner-up).

Vista Murrieta center Aily Robert (24) looks to grab the rebound against Murrieta Mesa in their recent matchup. Valley News/Action Captures Media Group

For the Southwestern League girls side, they also had a shared league championship as Vista Murrieta and Great Oak both finished with 9-1 records. The Broncos were victorious in their first matchup with the Wolfpack 50-34 on Jan. 13 before falling last Wednesday night, 48-35.

Janylle Nieto had 16 points to lead the Wolfpack, who were ranked third in division 2A, while Alyssa Schuzete added 10 points with six rebounds in that league championship clinching win.

For Great Oak coach Jared Curtiss, it was the culmination of a rebuild which started after a 2020-2021 season where the Wolfpack recorded marks of 2-10 overall and 1-9 against the Southwestern League.

Vista Murrieta will host Marlborough in their first-round matchup while third seeded Great Oak (Division 3A) will host California School for the Deaf (Riverside). Round 1 action will begin Thursday, Feb. 9, with tip-offs currently set for 7 p.m.

Derryl Trujillo can be reached by email at socaltrekkie@gmail.com.

Derryl Trujillo

Derryl Trujillo has been a local sportswriter since 2018 and is the 2019 IEBCA Supporter of the Year award winner. He can be reached via email at socaltrekkie@gmail.com.