MURRIETA — Late heroics by Darius Butler kept the Murrieta Valley boys basketball team's record unblemished as the Nighthawks beat Elsinore 62-60 in the championship game of the Nighthawk Classic.
Butler scored the last seven points for the Nighthawks (8-0) including the go-ahead basket with eight seconds remaining.
Trailing 58-53 with 3:30 to play, Murrieta Valley got a short jumper from Reid Shackelford to close to 58-55.
After an Elsinore miss, Butler scored and was fouled on a driving layup to tie the game after sinking the free throw with 1:57 remaining.
Butler wasn't finished as he grabbed the rebound off an Elsinore miss and then scored on the other end on another layup to put the Nighthawks ahead for the first time in the fourth quarter, 60-58, with 1:29 to play.
Lawrence Chamberlain then missed a 3-pointer for the Tigers giving the Nighthawks a chance to put the game away. Jackson Helms nearly did just that, but he missed on an alley-oop attempt and then fouled Elsinore's Daniel Dedeaux on the rebound attempt. Dedeaux calmly sank both free throws to tie the game at 60 with 40 seconds to play.
After a Murrieta Valley timeout, it once again Butler who came up big as he got the ball along with the baseline and drove in for the layup to put the Nighthawks up 62-60 with eight seconds left.
Elsinore's EJ Twyman got one last look for the Tigers, but his shot fell short in the final seconds.
Butler finished with 21 points, including nine in the fourth quarter and Shackelford added 19 for the Nighthawks.
Twyman torched the Murrieta Valley defense for 37 points, but he didn't score in the game's final 5:30. Chamberlain added 11 points for the Tigers (2-2).
Elsinore got off to a fast start and led 21-12 late in the first quarter. Murrieta Valley rallied to tie the game at halftime 32-32.
In the third quarter, the Nighthawks looked several times like they were going to build a lead, but Twyman answered every Murrieta Valley run and the Tigers actually led 47-46 heading into the final quarter.
A 12-0 run that spanned the quarter break gave Elsinore a 54-46 lead with 6:31 to play before Butler sparked the comeback.