Bryan Cabrera puts in a basket for Jurupa Hills during a recent game.  (Contributed photo by Connie Caruthers)

The Jurupa Hills basketball men struggled at the start of the 2022-23 season, losing five of their first eight games.

But recently, the Spartans have been playing very well; ever since New Year’s Day, they have been undefeated with a 4-0 record.

And most importantly, on Jan. 10 they obtained a 70-61 victory over their local rivals from Fontana High School, the defending CIF champion.

It was a strong turnaround for the Spartans, who lost to the Steelers, 55-49, in a game back in December.

Coach Respp Relatores said he is pleased with the improvement shown by the Spartans, who raised their record to 13-8 with wins over Notre Dame (77-39) and Bloomington (52-38).

Against Notre Dame, Jurupa Hills relied on good performances by captains Matt Lopez (who scored 19 points) and Bryan Cabrera (who supplied 15 points). The Spartans were ahead by a slim 27-22 margin at halftime, but then they used great defense and dominated the third quarter to surge to a big lead.

“They started a little slow tonight, but then they came out with a lot of energy in the second half,” Relatores said.

Akai McDaniels scored 10 points, while Jordan Napier had 8, Eric Rodriguez and Jaylen Ephraim both had 6, Malachi Reed had 4, and Martin Lopez had 2.

Relatores said that guards Reed and Cabrera have been helping to spark the team recently, and Napier, a football standout, has become a positive force since adapting to the basketball court.

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