Prep Preview: Big Daddy Tournament Final

I’m covering the championship game of the Big Daddy Tournament tonight for The Press-Enterprise. The best part of this assignment will be that the game is a rematch of last year’s Big Daddy Tournament final.


THE LOW DOWN:
The Moreno Valley Rancho Verde Mustangs (3-0 overall) are back in the tournament final following wins over Apple Valley Granite Hills, San Bernardino Aquinas and Riverside Poly. Not exactly gang-busters, but victories nonetheless. Senior wing Jordan Grace is one at the best in the Inland Area at creating his own shot, and will be counted on to score points in bunches if this team is going to go anywhere.


The Murrieta Valley Nighthawks (3-0 overall) are the No. 1 team in this week’s Inland Area Prep Basketball Top 10, and return to the Big Daddy Tournament as reigning champs. Coach Steve Tarabilda’s balanced offensive style brings out the best in his teams, and this year’s group already breezed past Corona and swatted away No. 10 Perris Citrus Hill en route to the title game.

KEY PLAYERS:
Moreno Valley Rancho Verde
— W: Jordan Grace, Sr. (6-foot-2, 185 pounds); G: Andrew Bournes, Jr. (6-foot, 170); Deshon Taylor, Soph. (6-foot, 172); Jalen Hall, Soph. (5-10, 175); F: Lance Jones, Jr. (6-2, 185).

Murrieta Valley — C: Jackson Helms, Sr. (6-foot-6, 200 pounds); G: Reid Shackleford, Sr. (5-11, 155); Scott Tarabilda, Sr. (6-foot, 150); F: Darius Butler, Sr. (6-3, 205); Talon Watkins, Jr. (6-4, 200).

THE DIFFERENCE:
Murrieta Valley possesses both a superior depth and height advantage, so unless Jordan Grace has one of the best games of his career, there’s little reason to think Rancho Verde has a chance here. Give Grace open looks, though, and it could turn into a tough night.
PREDICTION: Murrieta Valley 83, Rancho Verde 69

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