Defending Southwestern League Champion Murrieta Valley finished non-league play with a 13-2 record and reclaimed the Nighthawk Classic Title. The Nighthawks dominated during the tournament and soared past REV in the final, 70-44.
In their final two games before league play, the Nighthawks crushed Elsinore on Wednesday 76-27 and coasted past San Marcos 66-40 on Saturday.
Co-captains Karen Wolf and Deshea Wilkes have been instrumental in the Nighthawks' success. Wolf leads the team with a 12.3 scoring average and Wilkes was the Nighthawk Classic MVP.
Coach Scott Richards commented about his roster: “We have a lot of newcomers to our team; both from lower levels and one from a transfer. We have worked hard to gel out on the court and to use everyone’s talents for the best of the team.”
Alliah Marshall, Araian Hernandez, Brynn Dahmer, Isabel Munoz and Alex Morrison round out the Nighthawk starters.
“Our girls are improving every game and we are very excited to start league play. The Southwestern League is one of the toughest to play in around and we are looking forward to playing hard and try to defend our title,” added Richards.
Murrieta will face the Great Oak Wolfpack on Wednesday to begin their league schedule.
Looking to bump MVHS off their Championship perch are the Broncos from Vista Murrieta. The Broncos are 11-5 as they face Temecula Valley in the league opener.
“I am very pleased with where we are as a team entering league. I feel our freshmen and sophomores have gained valuable experience against some of the top teams in the state. Our juniors and seniors have really solidified their roles as leaders and are hungry to compete and be successful in league play and the playoffs,” commented Bronco Coach Chris Jones.
The Broncos finished 5-5 in league play last year and are looking to improve dramatically. They are led by senior captain Serafina Maulupe, who has averaged 17 points a game. Freshmen Jaelyn Brown is next at 13.6 points and Brittney Reed averages 9.3 points.
Yuende Guridi, Alexis Rivas, Leitasi Cravens, Alexis Marshall and Tatiana Navaro round out the Bronco starters.
“Serafina has really matured as an on-court leader. She now has added poise and leadership during games to her already existent scoring ability,” Jones said. “Coaches that have praised her court talents will notice of her game management, leadership, and maturity. It really defines her as a player.
“Our other senior, Alexis Rivas, has an intensity level that keeps our younger players focused. Her play on the court is a perfect compliment to the work ethic that we are trying to establish from a defensive perspective,” added Jones.
The most improved team in Murrieta is the Rams. Murrieta Mesa begins league play with a 12-4 start. Coach Robert Gergins has already improved on last year’s 6-20 record and is looking for their first league victory.
Murrieta Mesa is winless at 0-20 since joining the Southwestern league two years ago.
The Rams played exceptionally well in their pre-league games at the Lady Bears Holliday Classic
“Yes. I was very pleased with how the girls played all week long. Every team we played was from a division higher than us. They hung in there against a very good Riverside Poly team in their opening game, and then played tough against three strong opponents on consecutive days back to back to back. I especially liked their effort defensively in the Yucaipa game yesterday. They weathered several strong runs from a good team and played very tough at the end to pull out the win,” Gergins said.
Senior Shayd Bowers leads the Rams with a 12.8 average. Sophomore Mikayla Greens is next with 12.3. Jackie Palatie, Kiersta Tanner, Octavia Williams, Katie Smith, Maria Suarez and Jessica Brogden round out the Ram starters.
“We now have to get ready for a very competitive league schedule,” added Gergins. “Every team is very good.”
The Rams will travel to Chaparral on Wednesday to take on the 8-6 Pumas.