Vista Murrieta Holds Off Mesa in Physical Game, 83-77

Vista Murrieta High players gather during a timeout during Wednesday night's game. By Sierra Trujillo The Vista Murrieta High School ...

Vista Murrieta High players gather during a timeout during Wednesday night's game.

By Sierra Trujillo

The Vista Murrieta High School boys basketball team came away with an 83-77 road win Wednesday night against Murrieta Mesa, handing the Rams their fifth straight loss in an emotion-filled game.

With less than four minutes to go in the game, the Broncos led, 64-63. As the score went back and forth between the two teams, emotions reached a peak. After a free throw attempt by Mesa was missed, the rebound was grabbed by Vista senior Damon Dubots, who got caught up with a Rams player. Both players fell to the floor, causing a skirmish between the two teams.

Pushing and shoving ensued, only to be broken up by the coaches and officials. After the referees consulted for several minutes, Murrieta Mesa was charged with two technical fouls. Dubots and sophomore Michael Carongcong each made their two free throws, giving the Broncos four extra points and shifting the momentum in their favor.

“The fact that the officials took a while to sort things out was good, because it gave both sides time to cool down,” said Vista Murrieta head coach Andy Rucker. “Our guys did a good job of holding their cool, staying on the bench, so our whole team wasn’t wound up. That made [getting back into the game] a little bit easier.”

Dubots also said the break helped calm things down.

“We got in the huddle and started joking around a little bit, cooled down and just got back to it,” said Dubots.

With 59 seconds remaining, the Broncos led 76-72, at which point the Rams began to excessively foul, giving the Broncos more opportunities for points with free throw attempts. Much of the Broncos' success was due to the play of Dubots and Carongcong, who scored 20 points each.

“Michael did a good job of controlling the ball and not turning the ball over, getting good possessions for us, and he just played really big,” said Rucker. “He rebounded the ball, he scored, he blocked shots, he played like he should play.”

Junior Armani Mills also had a good night for the Broncos, scoring 15 points. Senior Bryan Phan led Murrieta Mesa with 22 points, while junior Kevin Palm contributed 15 points.

Vista Murrieta improved its record to 10-9 and will look to take this momentum into its next league game at home against Chaparral on Friday.

“We just have to keep up the hype to get the win on Friday,” said Dubots.

Murrieta Mesa, which falls to 8-11, will play host to Great Oak High on Friday.

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