Murrieta Valley Can't Overcome Lackluster First Quarter

#41 Michael Ochner drives the ball to the basket over #25 Kobe Williams When you outscore a basketball team in the final three quarters...

#41 Michael Ochner drives the ball to the basket over #25 Kobe Williams
When you outscore a basketball team in the final three quarters of the game and hold down their leading scorer to only 10 points, you’re normally optimistic about the outcome of the game. Unfortunately for Murrieta Valley High School, the Tigers of Elsinore High School were able to stave off the Nighthawks and win the game, 61-50. 
 
"We have to start how we finish," Murrieta Valley's Coach Steve Tarabilda said. "When we do that, we'll be okay."
 
The Tigers (11-5) came out strong defensively, running a full-court press that knocked the Nighthawks (6-8) back on their heels in the first quarter. Elsinore was able to string two scoring runs of 12-0 and 8-2 in the first quarter, that lead to a score of 24-8 after the quarter ended.
 
"In the beginning we were tentative," Coach Tarabilda said about playing against Elsinore's full-court press. "Once we started passing the ball, we started scoring layups. Let's do what we practice and we'll change the game, but it took us the whole quarter to figure it out."
 
Despite Murrieta Valley playing strong defense against Elsinore's Michael Taylor, two other Tigers' seniors, Trevon Lampkin and Preston Beverly, stepped up in his shoes to provide Elsinore with a large lead. 
 
Not to be daunted by the task of coming back, the Nighthawks' defense battled back, playing a full-court defense of their own to match the intensity of the Tigers. Murrieta Valley allowed 12, 10, and 15 points in the next three successive quarters.
 
On offense, they fought hard for offensive rebounds and were able to get to the foul line, though they were only shot 16 for 29 from the line overall.
 
When the second half rolled around, senior Jacob Forte took control of the Nighthawks' offense. He sunk 3 three-pointers and scored 11 points overall in the half to keep his team in the game.
 
Closing in on Elsinore in the fourth quarter, Murrieta Valley turned to Austin Bryant (pictured left) in the paint, who had been held to a quiet team-leading 19 points for the night. Bryant scored 6 points from the paint and scored 3 more from the line when the Nighthawks ended up in the bonus.

Even with the more aggressive play that got the crowd back into the game, Elsinore was able to match Murrieta Valley shot for shot in fourth quarter to hold off any attempts at a comeback. 

When asked whether his team was ready for league play, Coach Tarabilda joked, "If we only have to play three quarters in a game, I'd say we're ready. But we got a couple of practices and we have Santa Monica tomorrow night who is a class one team, so we'll have to see what we can do between now and Wednesday."

Notable Murrieta Valley performances included Forte's 15 points and Michael Ochner's 9 points scored, 7 of which were scored in the second half. Elsinore was led by Lampkin's 27 points scored and Beverly's 18 points scored before he fouled out halfway in the fourth quarter.

Murrieta Valley will travel to the coast to face Santa Monica High School (3-10) on Jan. 10 in the Nighthawks' final non-league game before facing Murrieta Mesa at home on Jan. 14 to kick-off Southwestern League play.
#42 Austin Bryant wins the jump ball against #35 Michael Taylor

#41 Michael Ochner drives in for the late game dunk
Coach Tarabilda forms a game plan to get Murrieta Valley back into the game

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