TEMECULA – In a showdown that showcased youthful talent and pinpoint shooting accuracy, the Temecula Valley Golden Bear boys basketball team clawed their way past Estancia 95-79 on Friday, Feb. 16, to claim their rightful spot in the CIF Southern Section Division 4A finals.

Led by the sensational performances of Liam Hodgkinson and Fabian Ruiz, Temecula Valley dominated their semifinal game. Hodgkinson, only a sophomore, lit up the scoreboard with a game-high 27 points, including five 3-pointers that dazzled the crowds and disheartened the defense. At his side, freshman phenom Ruiz delivered a remarkable 25-point spree without even stepping onto the court in the final quarter, sinking seven 3-pointers in a masterful shooting exhibition.

Jeremiah Profit, displaying his versatility, facilitated the team’s fluidity on offense with both scoring and passing in the Golden Bears win over Estancia Friday, Feb. 16. Valley News/Time Stood Still Photography

Freshman Jeremiah Profit produced all-round excellence with 15 points, eight rebounds, and a commendable seven assists. Complementing the dynamic trio was junior co-captain Jackson, who added 11 points and five assists to round out a commanding team performance.

In the very first quarter, Temecula Valley set a blistering pace, making 14 of 22 shots from the field to gain a 33-21 lead. Ruiz, Hodgkinson, and Profit were relentless, scoring 13, nine, and seven points respectively.

Estancia, resilient but ultimately outmatched, made its mark with senior point guard Jaedon Hose-Shea leading their effort by notching 24 points and six rebounds. Hose-Shea’s early performance held the spotlight for the Eagles, contributing 11 points in the opening period. Temecula Valley faced a momentary threat when Estancia sliced their lead to a mere seven points following a strategic shift to a zone defense. However, the Golden Bears swiftly extended their lead to 12 points at halftime.

Coach James Profit’s strategy capitalizing on conditioning and tempos proved pivotal in outlasting Estancia’s resilience. “We have prided ourselves on our preparation. Our tempo and ability to run up and down the court without getting tired proved itself tonight,” he noted to the media afterwards, emphasizing the comprehensive preparation that began in fall. He admired his team’s depth and trust in each other, values that translated into a cohesive and explosive performance on the court.

After defeating Estancia High School by contributing eleven points in the semifinals, Taj Jackson and the Temecula Valley Golden Bears will take on Northview for the Division 4A title next weekend. Valley News/Time Stood Still Photography

Temecula Valley basketball stands poised to contend for the title, embodying a blend of young talent and strategic prowess. As Estancia prepares to regroup for the CIF State playoffs, the Golden Bears set their sights on crowning their remarkable season with a championship victory.

In the final game of the Southern Section season, Temecula Valley (18-4) will take on Northview (24-9) for the Division 4A title on either Friday, Feb. 23, or Saturday, Feb. 24, at a site still to be determined by the CIF offices (Update will be online as soon it’s posted). Northview, the No. 3 team out of the Valle Vista League, made to the final round by defeating Hillcrest Christian 52-46. Brackets can be followed by visiting www.cifss.org.

Updates can be sent by email at sports@reedermedia.com.

JP Raineri
JP Raineri

JP is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and head of the Sports Department for the Valley News. Over his time in the Temecula Valley, JP, a former Southwestern League head baseball coach, was also an on-air radio personality at Q103.3, KATY 101.3, Hot 103.9, and was a television host for the Outdoor Channel. When not covering local, or national sports, JP also serves as an Associate Baseball Scout with NSR.