By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal
Defense was the point of emphasis, and one team’s superior defense was the difference between the La Habra Highlanders and the Sonora Raiders.
The Sonora Raiders girls basketball team came in with their focus on defense and shut down the Highlanders for nearly two quarters en route to a 45-23 victory.
The Raiders finished the first quarter with a modest eight point lead, but the Highlanders stayed scoreless until three minutes left in the second quarter off of a layup from Ashleigh Bessler.
The Raiders experience has allowed them to build on their defensive schemes, which enabled them to apply intense pressure while maintaining flexibility.
However, for the Raiders, despite silencing their rival for first half of the game, they are still looking for ways to improve.
“In order for us to apply full court pressure, we got to score and we struggled on offense today. We didn’t move the ball very well, and we missed a lot of shots we have been making, so I think we were just nervous,” Sonora head coach Melissa Barajas said.
Meghann Henderson, one of the Raiders leaders and most athletic defender focused her attention on Highlander sharpshooter Emma Zener.
Zener struggled to find open looks and find a rhythm. The Highlanders poor ball control led to turnovers, minimizing La Habra’s opportunities to score.
Laine James started the game with a three pointer and was able to find a nice shooting stroke which led to a game high 18 points.
“We like her to be ready to catch the ball ready to shoot. She’s a threat every time she has the ball, she needs to look, to catch and shoot or attack,” Barajas said.
With the Raiders leading 16-2 through a half of basketball, the Highlanders had an uphill battle ahead of them.
Amanda Cuervo was able to penetrate and attack the paint to help lead her team, but the Raiders steadily pulled away thanks to Marissa Dunn and James’ hot shooting in the third quarter.
The Highlanders offense began to break out, but at that point the Raiders had turned to the bench who also kept pace with the Highlanders.
“That’s what our strength has been all year. Our bench is great, we bring in some freshman, sophomores and juniors and they come in and they compete,” Barajas said.
The Raiders will play Sunny Hills on the road, and the Highlanders will welcome Buena Park on Friday.