Murrieta Mesa varsity boys basketball started fast and finished strong to beat crosstown rival Vista Murrieta Friday night.
The Rams got off to an early 12-8 lead in the first quarter but trailed 33-27 as the final period began. Led by Shane Staton, the Rams buckled down and took control in the final 8 minutes. They outscored the Broncos by eight points in the fourth period and raced pass Vista Murrieta to seize the victory, 45-43.
"We definitely got outplayed by Vista," said Murrieta Mesa Head Boys Basketball Coach Russell Ham. "We were fortunate to escape with a victory."
Staton, who scored a total of 19 points, was the Rams' player of the game. With 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Staton hit a three-pointer to tie the score. Then he stole the ball, got fouled with 20 seconds left, and scored one of two free-throws attempts, putting the Rams up.
"Our defense and the leadership of Shane Staton was key to our comeback," Ham said.
Of 25 total rebounds for the Rams, 22 were defensively. Murrieta Mesa had 14 steals, four of those by Staton.
Khalil Sharpe added eight points and Austin Bryant brought six, while Trevon Session contibuted five and Andrew Smith four.
Sharpe gave four assists, while Shondell Smith added two.
Leading for the Broncos was Anthony White with 15 points. Jamie Nunley, Jeremy Zorotovich and Austin Beech each scored six apiece. Peter Manu and Jacob Perry both scored four points and Westin Long added two.
The Rams are now 12-9 overall and 2-2 league. They host Great Oak on Wednesday. The Wolfpack is coming off a 65-60 win over Temecula Valley. They are 12-7 overall, 3-1 in league.
"League is still wide open," Ham said. "This is a big week for us as we're playing the top two teams (Great Oak and Chaparral)."
Vista Murrieta falls to 6-14 overall and 0-4 in league with the loss. Chaparral is next on the agenda for Coach Andy Rucker’s Broncos. The Pumas are 14-7 overall and 3-1 in league. Chaparral stunned Murrieta Valley in a squeaker, 52-50.
Murrieta Valley lost a close one Friday in a thriller at Chaparral. The Nighthawks blew a 39-33 lead in the third period and were outscored 15-9 in the final minutes to send the game into overtime. The Pumas came out on top 52-50 and handed the Nighthawks their second league loss.
The Nighthawks were led by Tyler Bilton’s 19-point, 10-rebound effort. Thomas Alexandre scored 14 points while Kevin Padlo had 10 with five assists.
Reid Bohanan added three points while Mitchell Lenhart and Jordan Williams both had a basket each. Lenhart led the Nighthawks with six assists and three steals.
The Nighthawks are now 13-6 overall and 2-2 in league. Next up for Murrieta Valley is Temecula Valley. The Golden Bears are 12-9 overall and 2-2 in league after the loss to the Wolfpack.