By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal
The Sonora Lady Raiders basketball team held on against the Highlanders despite a second half surge to win 44-41.
The Raiders held a commanding nine point lead coming out of halftime, but Amanda Cuervo and Ashley Bessler capitalized inside the paint to trim the lead and bring the Highlanders back into contention.
The Raiders balanced attack and tight pressure defense held the Highlanders in check, but in the second half the Highlanders forwards dominated the boards creating easy buckets for Bessler and Cuervo.
Out of halftime, Cuervo had only two points, but scored nine in the third and four points in the fourth to finish with 15.
Ashleigh Bessler was the Highlanders primary source of offense in the second and fourth quarters scoring six in both but was scoreless in the first and third quarters.
Marissa Dunn led the Raiders scoring nine points in the first half and playing lockdown defense on Highlander sharpshooter Emma Zener.
With seconds left on the clock, Meghann Henderson hit one of two free throws to give the Raiders a three point lead.
The Highlanders were able to get the ball down the court, but did not get a clean look for Zener who had the ball stripped from her as she went up for a three pointer.
The Raiders have been dangerous from behind the arc and knocked down five, compared to only 1 from the Highlanders
Henderson hit two threes in the second half, despite struggling to shoot for most of the game.
“We always tell her, you miss 100 shots, that just means you’re going to make the next 100. She never lost confidence, hit a big shot, we got a good steal, made a nice play in transition, it was kind of again that defense which led us to be able to score on offense,” said Sonora head coach Melissa Barajas.
The Raiders offensive attack was balanced between the entire starting lineup, with no points scored from the bench.
Marissa Dunn scored 13, Henderson had 9, Angela Rodriguez scored 10, Jazz Shedd scored 9 and Andrea Agramon had 3.
“It’s huge, because we had a lot of people make big plays today,” Barajas said.
Down the stretch Rodriguez was able to score inside despite spending most of the second half on the bench with foul trouble.
The Highlanders defensive pressure and rebounding allowed them to keep pace and put the Raiders in uncomfortable situations.
“Today we had a lot of turnovers, (which) puts you at a real disadvantage, we’ve got to do a real good job of taking care of that ball, while continuing to pressure teams and board,” Barajas said about things they can take from today.