Strong Defense Helps Valley Persevere Over Mesa, 66-53

#11 Bryan Phan dribbles the ball to the frontcourt With Southwestern League play underway, Murrieta Mesa High School traveled a short di...

#11 Bryan Phan dribbles the ball to the frontcourt
With Southwestern League play underway, Murrieta Mesa High School traveled a short distance to Murrieta Valley High School to play some hoops. After the Murrieta Valley girls team won a nail-biter against the Rams, the boys team followed suit and won 66-53, breaking a five-game losing streak.

Mesa (8-9, 0-2) took the first quarter of the game, but the Nighthawks (7-9, 1-1) persevered and never looked back after taking the lead with 6:27 left in the second quarter.

While lacking the athleticism of the Rams, the Nighthawks played an aggressive defense that appeared to get under the skin of Mesa's players. Key defensive performances by Murrieta Valley's Beau Paiva and Michael Ochner might not show up in the scorebooks, but they helped make a difference.

"We talked all week about how we have to have other guys step into spots and do their job," Murrieta Valley's Coach Steve Tarabilda said about his players stepping up in the game.

Both team's leading scorers at this point in the season, were both held down by the opposing defenses. Austin Bryant of Valley scored only 5 points in the first half, while Mesa's Davon Sanders scored none. With a strong first half performance by Mesa's defense against Bryant in the paint, Luke Armbruster stepped in off the bench and gave the Mesa defense trouble by scoring 9 points overall and clogging the inside passing lanes while on defense.

Despite losing the lead in the second quarter, Mesa kept the score close at halftime at 28-25.

Opening up the third quarter, Valley went on an 8-0 scoring run before Mesa's Sanders broke his own scoreless streak with a layup with 5:13 left. Mesa's Bryan Phan heated up in the third quarter and contributed to Mesa's 6-0 scoring run that could only be stopped by the end of the quarter.

#21 Jacob Forte drives the ball to the hoop
The Ram's Phan wasn't the only player to heat up in the second half. Bryant and Jacob Forte (pictured left) of Valley heated up too. Bryant had 14 second-half points and Forte scored 11 of his own.

With the Rams playing a more physical defense in the second half, the fouls piled up and Valley found themselves in the double bonus. Led by Forte's 8 for 10 foul shooting performance in the fourth quarter, Valley was able to get to the line a total of 13 times in the final quarter.

"Nighthawk basketball isn't about being flashy," Coach Tarabilda said. "It's being consistent. Grinding it out."

Notable Valley performances included Forte's 23 points scored and Bryant's 19 points for Valley. For Mesa, notable performers included Phan's 15 points scored and Joshua Rennick's 13 points scored.

Mesa will next play at home against Temecula Valley High School on Jan. 16. Valley will also play at home on Jan. 16 against Vista Murrieta High School.

#33 Davon Sanders shows frustration with Valley's defense

#51 Luke Armbruster lays the ball up
#22 Joshua Rennick drives the ball to the hoop
#42 Austin Bryant scores an easy 2 points


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