MURRIETA ---- Senior Justin Gudger scored 19 of his game high 32 points in the second half as Murrieta Valley withstood an early fourth quarter push to pull out a 67-55 victory over La Puente Bishop Amat on Tuesday.
Leading by 11 after three periods, Bishop Amat (12-4) scored 11 of the first 15 points in the third quarter to close the gap to six early in the fourth quarter.
"We just weren't getting all five guys on the floor all on the same page a lot tonight," Murrieta Valley head coach Steve Tarabilda said. "We wanted to contain (Bishop Amat’s Daniel Rodriguez and Tyler Hill) and we did a pretty good job for three quarters.”
The Lancers opened the fourth quarter as Hill took a half court alley-oop pass from Rodriguez and laid it in. On the Nighthawks’ next possession, Rodriguez stole the ball and raced down the court for a lay-up, pulling the Lancers within seven.
“I got a good look at the ball and just decided to take a chance on (stealing) it,” Rodriguez said. “Once the ball was knocked away, it was just a matter of making the shot.”
On the Nighthawks’ next play, Gudger raced to the basket and got a pass from Austin Quick and laid it in. Bishop Amat’s Rodriguez then got the Lancers within four when he hit a long 3-pointer and, after a Nighthawk turnover, a short jumper with just over five minutes left in the game.
“They are a well-coached team, and they got on a run early in the fourth,” Tarabilda said. “Give them credit, they never quit on this game.”
Tarabilda called a timeout with just over four minutes left and when the Nighthawks returned to the floor they tightened up their defense and pulled away late, connecting on 7-of-10 free throws in the final four minutes to seal the victory.
“They did what they had to late and they nailed their free throws,” Bishop Amat head coach Brandon Ertle said. “We missed too many free throws, both late and throughout the game, to really give ourselves a shot tonight.”
The Nighthawks dominated on the boards, pulling down 27 rebounds to the Lancers 16. Murrieta Valley (12-2) also connected on 68 percent of its free throws (15-22) while the Lancers struggled from the line late, hitting only four of their final 11 and 9-of-16 overall.
With the score tied after the first quarter, the Nighthawks dominated the second quarter and pulled out to an eight-point halftime lead. Gudger connected for eight points in the second quarter and Quick added seven of his 26 in the quarter to give Murrieta Valley the halftime lead.
“We were playing well, we just weren’t playing together early,” Tarabilda said.
“(At halftime) I told them they had to continue to contain their scorers and play the same game and we would be OK.”
The Lancers’ were hurt by turnovers as they turned the ball over 31 times in the game to the Nighthawks 15.
“Between our free throw shooting and the fact that we kept giving them the ball, I am surprised the game was as close as it was,” Ertle said. “We just made too many mistakes and you can’t do that against a good team like (Murrieta Valley).”
Gudger (32) and Quick (26) combined for 58 of the Nighthawks 67 points in the victory while Bishop Amat was led by Rodriguez's 29 in the loss.