Murrieta Mesa drops basketball league opener, 81-62

By Tim Sahar The Murrieta Mesa High School boys basketball team will try to bounce back with a win at Great Oak Friday night after losin...

By Tim Sahar

The Murrieta Mesa High School boys basketball team will try to bounce back with a win at Great Oak Friday night after losing their Southwestern League opener to Temecula Valley Wednesday night, 81-62.

After a clutch 54-50 victory over Downey High last week, the Rams seemed to come into Wednesday’s game flat-footed and went into a big 19-7 deficit to close out the first quarter, which included six turnovers and four missed layups.

Brandon Mclntosh had a team-high 19 points for the Rams and also grabbed 5 rebounds. Mesa’s first option was to get the ball into Mclntosh’s hands deep in the post early on -- but once Temecula Valley’s double team pressure came onto Mclintosh, he had no choice but to throw up a contested shot with hands in his face, pass the ball up or turn it over for an easy Temecula layup.

"When you’re not converting two- and three-foot shots and Temecula is, we had a big deficit to overcome and it got more scattered on from there," says Mesa head coach Chris Jones.

The Rams could not catch a break on the defensive end all night long. Their 2-3 and 3-2 zone defense was hurt by an effective passing game from Temecula Valley’s guards. Aside from moving the ball well, the Golden Bears’ full-court press took a huge toll on Mesa -- one the Rams had difficulties getting over.

Temecula Valley’s Bryce Denham scored a game-high 23 points on primarily effortless fast break baskets. In large part due to Mesa’s zone, Dante Navarro scored 15 points on five wide-open 3-point field goals, one that included a 3-point plus free throw early in the first.

Aside from Navarro’s downtown marksmanship, Temecula Valley made 3-pointers that easily could have been 14 or 15.

"Temecula moves the ball really well and they shoot the ball well. That combination is pretty tough to defend," Jones said.

Murrieta Mesa (9-9) upped the tempo once the second half began with aggressive finishes from Trevon Wright, who scored 8 third-quarter points. Things seemed to get worse for Mesa, though, when starting forward Devin Fortune came down awkwardly on his foot after an attempt to block a shot late in the third quarter. He did not return.

The game was out of reach in the fourth quarter with Mesa down 75-58. This gave Denham the opportunity to throw down a ferocious two-handed slam to help put on the finishing touches for the Golden Bears.










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