Jason Choi | La Habra Journal

Posted on 15 January 2014 by La Habra Journal

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Sonora’s Mike Murphy returned to the bench and picked up his 500th win as a high school head coach after the Raiders defeated Troy at home, Wedensday night.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

It was a night worth celebrating for the Sonora boys’ basketball program after its varsity team defeated Troy 63-54 in its Freeway League opener, Wednesday night at Sonora High.

For a victory that was over a month in the making, the Sonora boys’ basketball team got its head coach back after he served a suspension that started after the team’s first meeting against Canyon back on Dec. 7.

In return, the team gave Mike Murphy a gift in the form of his 500th career win, and did so against one of Sonora’s biggest league challengers of late.

“We’re glad to have him back, now we’re at full strength,” said Adam Marlow, senior captain. “It’s an honor. He’s a great coach, he’s been there for me for three years and it feels great to be able to celebrate with him.”

Murphy returned to the team earlier in the week during practices, but had not been able to work with the team since early December.

During that stretch, the Raiders continued to thrive, compiling an 11-2 record.

“There was a lot of pressure because they were doing so well without me,” Murphy said. “My assistant coaches did a fantastic job and I thought the players responded to it unbelievably. I couldn’t believe how well they did, I was really proud of the coaches and the players, they did a great job.”

web_4lhj-sonora_troy_bb__244-228x300-7481716Josh Rodriguez led Sonora with 19 points and Ben Rico scored 16 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter as the Raiders held off a Troy rally.

Steven Murphy added some muscle inside with 12 points and 10 rebounds. When Troy shrunk the deficit to three points early in the fourth quarter, the Raiders went to Murphy, who scored two baskets and found Rico for a 3-pointer to give Sonora an extra cushion.

“Coming into the game, we thought Steven could be a big factor with his size and we don’t do a great job of getting him the ball,” Mike Murphy said. “We kept it simple passing scheme, but we got it on the block and he’s talented, he could be so good if we get him the ball a little bit more.”

Early on, however, it was Rodriguez leading the charge.

The junior guard scored 11 points in the first quarter, including a buzzer-beating shot from well beyond half-court as the Raiders led 20-15.

“We’ve got a lot of talented scorers, so we find a way to figure it out when things aren’t working,” Rodriguez said. “I just got off to a hot start, so I kept shooting.”

The shot gave Sonora momentum in the second quarter as it stretched the lead to nine points at halftime.

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Ben Rico scores on a layup during the second quarter of Sonora’s 64-53 win over Troy, Wednesday night at home.

However, the Warriors (10-8, 0-1) chipped away at that lead throughout the second half as David Bayeh found some rhythm and led the team with six points in the third quarter.

Chad Rollins took over in the fourth quarter with eight points, with one of those jumpers getting Troy as close as 48-45.

However, Steven Murphy stopped all notion of a Troy comeback with two inside baskets and a big assist to Rico and Sonora(15-3, 1-0) held on to help Mike Murphy reach a milestone.

Rico, who was held in check through the first three quarters, scored 10 points in the final quarter, which included hitting all five shots from the free-throw line.

“I just love the fourth quarter, it’s just exciting, a lot of people get nervous, but that’s when I play my best basketball,” Rico said. “There was a difference having [Murphy] back. We were disappointed when we didn’t get the win for him against Canyon before the suspension, so that just added to the desire to get a win tonight.”

Rollins led the Warriors with 15 points and nine rebounds, Bayeh added 11 points and guard Jason Choi scored 10 points in the loss.

Sonora will stay at home to take on Fullerton as the Raiders continue league play, Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

“Starting 1-0 is huge, especially against one of the better teams in our league,” Mike Murphy said. “This win means I’ve had some great players. I’ve thought about all the great kids that I’ve been able to coach here. Coaches are just along for the ride, I haven’t won any of those games, I’ve had some great players here and it’s been a great ride.”

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Sonora’s Meghann Henderson looks for a teammate while being pressured by Troy’s Allison Lorenzo during the second half of a 64-29 loss, Wednesday night at home.

GIRLS VARSITY

The Sonora girls’ varsity team was reminded of Troy’s dominance of the Freeway League after the Lady Warriors handed it a 64-29 loss, Tuesday night at Sonora High.

Troy’s aggressive perimeter defense and its size advantage inside proved to be a lethal combination, as the Lady Raiders were forced to take tough shots and struggled to work the ball inside.

“I thought in our first half, we were pretty solid defensively and a lot of their offensive opportunities came off turnovers,” said Melissa Barajas, Sonora head coach. “We just want to improve offensive execution, having five players working together. It feels we always have two or three girls out of place, so we’re just not really in sync yet, but that’s the struggle with a young team.”

Meghann Henderson led the Lady Raiders (7-10, 0-1) with 12 points and scored eight points in the fourth quarter. Lauren Nakahara returned from an ankle sprain to score 11 points, but came out of the game briefly at the end of the third quarter after aggravating the injury.

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Senior guard Lauren Nakahara surveys the court during the second half of the Lady Raiders’ 64-29 loss to Troy, Wednesday night at home.

Troy forwards Rebecca Lazuka and Tala Reynoso led the Lady Warriors with 15 points each, while sophomore guard Barbara Sitanggan added 10 points. Lazuka and Reynoso also hauled in seven rebounds each.

Reynoso scored eight points in the first half as Troy led 29-12. Troy (10-5, 1-0) then held the Lady Raiders to just five points in the third quarter.

With the toughest part of league play out of the way, Sonora will refocus for Friday’s league matchup at against Sunny Hills at 6 p.m.

“I think these next four games will be a better matchup for us, we’ll be able to pressure a little bit more, which gets us going because we don’t have to think, but just play hard,” Barajas said. “That gives us confidence on offense and allows us to be more in sync.”

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