MURRIETA -- They make you move your feet. They make you look out of the corners of both eyes. They make you sweat.
And after about 30 seconds are up, they make you pay.
Murrieta Valley's always methodical -- and usually proficient -- offense wore down yet another worthy opponent Friday night. Senior forward Justin Gudger led the way with 24 points, as the Nighthawks grinded out a 63-43 home victory Friday night over rival Vista Murrieta before a packed gym.
Murrieta Valley, the defending CIF SS champion, and Division I-AA's No. 5-ranked team, improved to 17-3, and 4-0 in the competitive Southwestern League. The Broncos fell to 12-8, 2-2.
"They're very particular with their offense," said Broncos forward Davin Guinn, who scored a team-high 22 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. "They will not take a shot unless they like it. They're very disciplined, so unless they see a shot that their offense is designed to get, they're not going to take a bad shot."
The Nighthawks, who never seemed in a hurry on offense, routinely and crisply passed the ball around the perimeter, melting down the 35-second shot clock.
"That makes five guys have to play for 25 to 30 seconds, and that's tough to do, no matter how good you are defensively, no matter how athletic you are," Vista Murrieta coach Andy Rucker said. "Their core group has been together for three-plus years. They know each other in and out. They know what their coaches expect. They just don't make a lot of mistakes."
The Nighthawks' due diligence on offense usually resulted in points in the paint. Fourteen of Murrieta Valley's 23 field goals came on layups.
"We've got intelligent players. They read the defense, and we wait, and we say we've got to be patient (until) we break the defense down," Nighthawks coach Steve Tarabilda said. "They understand how to attack the defense. All these teams are trying to mix it up and throw different things at us. But we have an answer to pretty much everything."
After making just four of 15 shots in the first quarter, Murrieta Valley began to make it look easy. The Nighthawks converted on 20 of their final 29 field goal attempts (69 percent) through the final three quarters.
"We want to get the majority of our shots in the paint," said Gudger, who also pulled down five rebounds. "We probably get 60 to 70 percent of our shots in the paint. That's where we're looking to go."
Leading 12-7 after one quarter, the Nighthawks outscored Vista Murrieta 18-9 in the second quarter. A layup by Jackson Helms (15 points, 8 rebounds) gave Murrieta Valley a 30-16 lead at the half.
"We're really patient moving the ball around," said Murrieta Valley forward Darius Butler, who scored 13 points. "Coach wants us to have at least eight or nine passes every trip. If we do that, it wears the defense down and we get open looks."
The Nighthawks opened the third quarter by making their first four shots—three of them on layups. The Broncos never got closer than 10 points in the second half.
"Our coaches just preach at us, ‘Patience, patience, patience,'" said Helms. "Our patience is what's breaking them down."