Vista Murrieta's Brittney Reed, drives to the basket past Great Oak's Adrianna Carrillo during the teams' game Friday night at Great Oak High school.
TEMECULA Serafina Maulupe is no longer the prolific scorer for the Vista Murrieta High girls basketball team, and that’s a big reason why the Broncos have become one of the top teams in the Inland Empire.
Vista Murrieta produced its second straight convincing victory to open the Southwestern League schedule Friday night, using the newfound scoring balance Maulupe has helped foster to dispatch host Great Oak 64-43.
The Broncos (13-5, 2-0) were a middle-of-the-pack finisher in league play last season with Maulupe averaging more than 22 points per game. She moved from shooting guard to point guard this season to help stabilize a young team that added standout freshmen Brittney Reed and Jaelyn Brown. The improvement has been dramatic.
Vista Murrieta began the week ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section’s Division I-A rankings, with Maulupe averaging about 15 points per game.
She scored 11 points Friday, one of four Broncos to finish in double figures, and her poise helped Vista Murrieta quickly erase an 8-1 deficit to open the game.
“The court discipline is what I’m most proud of from her,” said Jones, whose team starts the two freshmen and two sophomores. “Everybody knows she can score. When teams game plan for us, they try to stop Serafina.
“We need her points, but we need her court discipline more.”
Maulupe said she’s perfectly happy in her new role. She has played point guard on her travel team for years and expects to man the position in college. Jones said NCAA Division I Middle Tennessee State offered her a scholarship and he expects more prominent schools to court her in coming weeks.
“I’m more of a leader now. It’s great …” Maulupe said. “It takes a lot of pressure off me. I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Maulupe struggled from the field against Great Oak (9-6, 0-2), making just 5-of-18 shots, but her teammates more than compensated. Reed finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, while classmate Brown compiled 10 points, 16 rebounds and several blocked shots. And both freshmen spent considerable time on the bench in foul trouble.
Reserve forward Alexis Rivas added 15 points and nine rebounds, and the Broncos’ trapping defense forced 20 first-half turnovers to close the half on a 32-11 run. Vista Murrieta led by at least 12 points throughout the second half.
Roya Rustamzada scored 18 points to lead Great Oak. Abbey Welch added eight points for the Wolfpack.
“I thought we played really hard. We played with a lot of heart, a lot of energy,” Great Oak coach Shannon Maurice said. “They were just better than we are.”