Posted on 16 February 2013 by La Habra Journal
By Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal
ANAHEIM——The Sonora Raiders dropped a heartbreaker, 44-40, to Servite, Friday night, at Servite, in the second round of the CIF playoffs.
The loss ends the Raiders’ season where many expected Sonora to go deep into the playoffs, and possibly contend for the title.
In the first quarter, the Raiders seemed to be rattled by the hostile environment set forth by the Servite faithful. Sonora was unable to get many good possessions in the first, and often settled for contested jump shots.
“We had trouble executing all night,” said Sonora Coach Mike Murphy. “It was just so loud, that we couldn’t really communicate.”
The Raiders only put up six points in the quarter, but their stifling pressure defense only allowed 11.
The Sonora offense opened up a bit early in the second. Raider guards Adam Marlow and Josh Rodriguez began to get penetration, and find open teammates.
Marlow got a nice drive and hit Travis Ryal right under the basket for an easy two. Then Rodriguez did the same for Andrew Talley on the next possession, and the lead was cut to four. A couple possessions later, Rodriguez drained a three with a hand in his face, to cut the lead to 1, at 17-16.
The teams went back and forth for the remaining couple minutes of the half, and the Friars took a 22-20 lead to the break.
At the break, a special education student from Servite was dancing on the court and the Friar faithful gathered around him and encouraged him on. One student even had a little dance off with him that ended with an embrace.
In the hostile environment that was put forth by both teams, the moment showed that the rivalry was strictly a basketball one, and nothing personal.
There was only 15 combined points in the third quarter but no signature moments. After three, the Raiders led 29-28. The lead would prove to be the only lead for Sonora.
The Sonora fans did their best to keep up with Servite’s “Asylum” and seemed to eliminate the home-court advantage in the fourth quarter.
“I have enjoyed playing here so much,” said Senior center Travis Ryal, who had eight points. “We have the best fans in the world. They came out here and showed up the fans that are supposed to be the best in the county.”
The Raiders came out flat in the fourth, and dug themselves into a hole that they could not quite fight out of. Sonora could not buy a basket early in the quarter, and the Friars took a 40-29 lead.
Talley would then knock down the first of his two three pointers in the quarter, and score Sonora’s first points of the fourth almost 5 minutes in.
The Raiders then began a valiant comeback effort. They picked up the defensive pressure and forced Servite to make a few turnovers.
Rodriguez nailed a step-back three pointer with just over a minute left to cut the lead to 42-40. It was his fourth three-point shot of the game, and all 12 of his points came from behind the arc.
From that point on, the Raiders could just not get their shots to fall. At one point, Rodriguez drove with the Raiders down by three.
He was fouled and made the shot. The referee made the call that the foul occurred on the ground, so Rodriguez did not get a chance for a game tying free throw. Instead, Sonora took the ball out of bounds, still down by three.
Jimmy Golden, who had a rough night, missed a contested, game-tying three point shot with just over 15 seconds left to essentially clench the game for the Friars.
Sonora was able to hang their heads high and realize that they fought the full 32 minutes but just could not pull it off.
“We gave it our all tonight,” said Ryal. “It just wasn’t meant to be tonight. Shots just weren’t falling.”
Even the never-satisfied Murphy was happy with the way the team played tonight.
“We fought really hard tonight,” said Murphy. “We didn’t give up, but we just could not make a shot. It was that simple.”
“We had a phenomenal group of seniors this year,” Murphy added. “We will definitely miss them.”
The team has a lot to look forward to next year, with four sophomores and one junior returning to the varsity team.
“We are excited about next year,” Murphy said. “We got 5 guys returning next year, including two of the best guards in the county. We will be back and make a run next year.”