Murrieta Valley ran into a stubborn Heritage team Friday night determined to win their first CIF playoff game at the expense of the Nighthawks. It almost happened. Early in the fourth period with less than six minutes to play, the Patriots tied the game at 58 apiece and clung to their hopes of an upset.
The Nighthawk defense stiffened, forcing turnovers and missed shots to pull ahead with 10 unanswered points on their way to a round-one CIF Southern Section Division 2AA victory.
The Nighthawks played a disciplined, well-balanced game en route to their 68-58 win. When pressed, Murrieta Valley stiffened and answered every time the Patriots threatened.
Murrieta Valley had all five starters in double figures against Heritage. Kevin Padlo and Mitchell Lenhart led the Hawks with 15 each. Tyler Bilton scored 13, Thomas Alexandre 12 and Talon Watkins 10.
Reid Bohanan also dropped in a bucket for the Nighthawks while Jordan Williams added a free throw.
The Nighthawks’ Achilles heel emerged again Friday night as Murrieta Valley missed 9 out of 20 at the charity stripe.
The Patriots’ Andrew Oliver scored a game-high 28 points, and kept the Nighthawks off guard all evening. Mat Bradshaw dropped in five three-point shots and scored 16 points.