East County Sports

Monarchs dominate, reach Final Four


ECS staff report

SPRING VALLEY — The Monte Vista Monarchs handed the Fallbrook Warriors a far different playoff result than they experienced from the previous season.

A year ago, Fallbrook dropped a heart-breaking,loss in overtime to the Guajome Park Frogs, quickly ending a season’s worth of work and promise  far earlier tan expected.

On Saturday (Feb. 19), there was little doubt as to the superior team.

Monte Vista (22-5 overall), winning for the ninth time in their last 10 outings, over-whelmed the Warriors, 60-43, in the quarterfinals of the CIF-San Diego Section Division IV boys basketball championship.

The top-seeded Monarchs advance to host Escondido Charter in a Final Four pairing on Wednesday (Feb. 23) at 7 p.m. The fourth-seeded White Tigers (20-9) advanced by stopping Gen. S.W. Kearny, 67-63, to post their first-ever 20-win campaign.

This will be the Monarchs’ first visit to the semifinals since barely missing out in 2017-18 when they were also upset by, of all schools, Guajome Park. Afterward, the Monarchs weren’t a very good basketball team, starting last spring’s season at 1-13 before turning everything around.

“The team started to buy-in to the program,” said head coach Mike Tully, who has seen a transformation from last season’s poor start to go 32-7 since then, claiming a pair of Grossmont Valley League crowns. “We know it’s not going to get any easier, but we have our minds headed in the proper direction.”

Against Fallbrook, a strong defensive effort ignited the transition game, leading to an array of easy baskets, led by Isaiah Hilke and Brandon Tully.

“It’s really not a complicated recipe for success,” the coach noted. “They just need to follow their assignments, then trust develops between the players on the court.”

.Fallbrook was also thwarted on the boards, gaining few second-chance opportunities, as Monte Vista started to pull away to a 33-16 halftime cushion.

Said Brandon Tully, “t the half, we wanted to keep our composure, hold the lead and win.”

The Warriors made a short run in the third period, but Monte Vista pulled everything back by the fourth period to mount a 20-point advantage.

“Overall, we need to play hard all four quarters, play within ourselves and together in order to keep  winning,” the senior added. “As far as our focus for Escondido Charter, we need to keep the big man off the boards and take away their shooters, continue to play hard on defense.”

Tully, the coach’s son, drained 6-of-7 from three-point range for a game-best 30 points. He also grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked a shot. Meanwhile, Hilke collected 14 points, plus a game-best 15 boards, 2 steals and a pair of blocks.

Division V: El Cajon Valley advanced to the semifinals for the second time ever by smacking Castle Park, 75-49.

The Braves will play top-seeded St. Joseph Academy of San Marcos on Wednesday. The Crusaders downed Horizon Prep of Rancho Santa Fe, 59-20.

The only other time th Braves raced this deep into the playoffs was in 2014-15,when head coach Marty Ellis’ Braves took the Division III title over Valhalla,61-49.

Division III: Grossmont District school has two chances to gain a berth in the semifinals; only one came away as a winner.

Grossmont had an easy time at home over Mission Vista, 67-29. Meanwhile, Steele Canyon was rocked by hy Madson, 68-41, at The Madhouse.


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