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Nighthawk Boys Look to Continue Domination of Southwestern League

Two-time champ Murrieta Valley faces tough opposition from the Rams and Broncos this boys' basketball season.

Murrieta Valley varsity boys basketball opens its defense of the Southwestern League title Wednesday against the Wolfpack at Great Oak High School. Coach Steve Tarabilda is seeking to win his fifth championship in six seasons.

Murrieta Valley has consistently won the title for five years except when the Nighthawks finished second in the 2009-2010 season. During the past two seasons, Tarabilda has guided the team to a 19-1 league record.

The Nighthawks are currently 11-4 and ranked eighth in the Southern Section 2AA Division and 164th in the state. They are coming off an impressive 60-36 victory over Redlands Thursday.

Kevin Paldlo’s 15.1-point average leads the Nighthawk attack. Tyler Bilton follows with a 12.3 average; Mitchell Lenhart is scoring seven points a game. Thomas Alexander, Jordan Williams, Jacob Forte and Reid Bohanan round out the MVHS starters. All are juniors except for Forte, a sophomore.

Tarabilda is 326-150 in his 18-year career at Murrieta Valley.

Looking to shake things up this year are the Rams from Murrieta Mesa. Coach Russell Ham has improved his young basketball program every year. Is this the year the Rams climb the league ladder?

They are 10-7 this year and ranked 20th in the 3AA Southern Sectional Division.

The Rams were win-less in league play two years ago, but improved to 5-5 last season. Coach Ham is looking to compete for the Nighthawks' title with his senior-laden roster.

Seniors Shane Staton, Khalil Sharpe, Trevon Session and Camry Smith have matured and lead the Ram offensive attack this year. They are joined by junior Shondell Smith and Sophomore Austin Bryant, who round out the Mesa starters.

The Rams got ready to open the season by beating Elsinore 71-63 Saturday. They host Chaparral Wednesday.

Vista Murrieta has finished second in the Southwestern League the past two seasons. Coach Andy Rucker would like that to change.

The Broncos are currently 6-10 and ranked 37th in the 1AA Southern Section. They are coming off a tough 77-69 loss to Chino Hills last week as non-league play ended.

Guards Anthony White, Spencer Benson and Austin Beech control the Bronco offense. Forwards Jeremy Zorotovich, Evan Roberts and Peter Manu have all contributed to Vista’s success.

The Golden Bears from Temecula Valley will be in town Wednesday night to kick off league play at Vista Murrieta.

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