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Lady Highlanders look for redemption

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Lady Highlanders look for redemption

Posted on 10 March 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Unfinished business. That’s exactly what the Lady Highlanders softball team has collectively had on their minds since a crushing loss in the 2016 CIF semifinals derailed La Habra’s championship bid and snapped their school record 26-game winning streak.

Photo courtesy Paula Luna
Ready for the season: The Lady Highlander softball team looks to continue where they finished last year by recapturing the league title and competing for a CIF title. With a number of seniors and returning players, La Habra looks to improve on its 29-2 record from last year.

Despite ending on a sour note, the Lady Highlanders finished with a 29-2 record and have plenty to be optimistic about in 2017. The girls finished a perfect 10-0 in league and will be returning all but three starting position players.
First and foremost, they return a pair of aces in the circle. Seniors Hannah Johnson and Janelle Rodriguez might be the best pitching tandem in the county. Both girls are coming off back-to-back dominant seasons. According to head coach Steve Harrington, Rodriguez is back at full strength after suffering through a shoulder injury late last season.
La Habra will also have All-CIF outfielder Kira Cauley back to spark the offense again. Cauley is a legitimate five-tool talent. In addition, seniors Billie Jean Wells, Alyssa Palacios and Alyssa Rios are all returning starters and major contributors from last season.
La Habra will have some big shoes to fill at a couple key positions though.
Shortstop Frankie Mendoza and catcher Nikki Butler both moved on to play collegiately. Last year’s captains were heart of the order batters and equally valuable on the defensive end. That said, replacing their leadership could prove to be the most difficult hurdle this year.
Although the Lady Highlanders lost a few key starters from a year ago, they are still far and away the favorite to win another Freeway League title.

Photo courtesy Paula Luna Sparking the offense: All-CIF Outfielder Kira Cauley is one of the many seniors that look to help lead the Lady Highlanders this season. La Habra is looking to recapture the league title and run for CIF title.

Sonora (13-11, 6-4) finished in second, while Sunny Hills (16-10, 5-5) and Fullerton (18-12, 5-5) were right behind.
The Raiders are lead by senior captain Claudia Kim, who pitches and plays middle-infield for Sonora.
Harrington is excited about having a lot of returning players and believes a couple girls stepping up from the junior varsity team, as well as a couple freshman will make significant contributions right away.
“A beautiful surprise this year, has been Alexis Riley,” Harrington said.
Riley is a senior, but played junior varsity last season. Harrington admitted her talent has always been there, but praised her on her maturity during the offseason.
La Habra’s success during Harrington’s first season at the helm didn’t go unnoticed. The Lady Highlanders were bumped up to a Division 1 team this year for the first time in school history.
“I don’t care what division we’re in, I’ve been in that division,” Harrington said. “I’ve been down that road many times, heck last year’s team beat the Division 1 champion.”
Harrington added a gauntlet of tough out of league games to the schedule this year to better prepare the girls for the rigors of CIF. After getting his first full offseason with his team, Harrington believes they have what it takes to beat anybody regardless of division.
“This is a tight knit group,” he concluded, “and in my experience, the tighter the group the better the team.

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Sonora 'Splash Brothers' lift Raiders to best record since ‘09

Sonora ‘Splash Brothers’ lift Raiders to best record since ‘09

Posted on 20 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Rarely does one high school basketball team possess a pair of the top three-point shooters in the county. Having a trio, virtually unheard of.

Sean Murphy

In Sean Murphy, Kevin Marlow and Lucas Everett, the Sonora Raiders possess a tandem of sharpshooters, each of whom confident they are the best. And based on the numbers they have posted this season, it’s hard to argue. The trio could be right, perhaps only rivaling each other as Orange County’s top marksman.
Some high school teams don’t post their players stats, as to not give opposing coaches a scouting advantage. But based upon the data available, Marlow, Murphy and Everett comprise three of the top five three-point shooters in Orange County this season.
Everett, a junior, lead everybody with 82 three-pointers this season and finished a robust 45% from behind the arc. He made at least five in a game 12 different times this season. Perhaps his best night came against San Dieguito Academy early in the year when he knocked down eight in one game.
Not to be outdone, Murphy drilled 10 the next night against Animo South Los Angeles to close out the Crean Lutheran tournament. He finished the season with 72 made on 35% shooting.

Kevin Marlow

Marlow, who was the Raiders leading scorer, made a total of 68 threes and shot 35% as well. Had his battery-mates not outdone him, Marlow would own the school record as well. He hit seven against Central Gwinnett (Georgia), and six in the final regular season game against Fullerton this year.
Raiders assistant coach Jason Stein also pointed out Marlow’s uncanny ability as a clutch shooter.
“Kevin hit two huge three-pointers in the closing minutes of regulation against La Costa Canyon in the semi-finals of the Torrey Pines tournament,” Stein said. “Then he hit another big three against Santa Fe Christian in the finals of that same tournament to take home the tournament MVP.”
“And of course, Kevin hit the game winner against Sunny Hills in overtime too,” Stein added.
Beyond the incredible numbers and records each has posted, perhaps the trio’s most resounding endorsement is that they made a believer out of their coach Mike Murphy.
For nearly three decades Murphy has built Sonora into one of the top high school basketball programs in Orange County with a traditional inside-out, pressure defense and ball control philosophy.
But then his son Sean joined the team last season. He and the rest of the trio have shot the ball so well the past two years that they forced Murphy to adapt his approach.

Lucas Everett

“We practice it all the time so if we’re in the game and ever get an open look, [coach] Murph is never going to tell us not to shoot,” Marlow said. “So if we get a good look we’re going to take the shot.”
“Yeah he is real old school guy,” Marlow said. “He would love it if we threw the ball inside every time down the court.”
“He’s never coached three shooters like this,” Sean said of his dad. “After the second half of league last year though, he started to figure it out.”
“I think it was kind of hard for him to expand his thinking at first, but after he got used to it, it worked out really well for us.” Marlow added. “He realized how we could shoot the ball and how it expands the offense, so I think he was more open to that this year.”
“I feel like him changing the way he’s coached his teams in the past has helped us out a lot, because we have all shot the ball pretty well this year,” Sean added.
Sure, making seven, eight or even 10 threes in a game certainly helped the trio sway their passionately old-school coach to release the reigns.
But coach Murphy admitted it was their work off the court that impressed him the most.
“We’ve played 100 games since last year, so I’ve seen them play enough to know I have to let them shoot the ball, that’s what they do,” coach Murphy said. “The faster we play, and the more possessions there are, the better our chances are to win.”
“They work at it, they make those shots for a reason,” Murphy said. “They are always in the gym shooting.”
Murphy said the trio practice so much that he actually has to protect them from overdoing it sometimes. He referenced perhaps basketball’s all-time perfectionist, Kobe Bryant saying not to take more than 600 shots a day to prevent his shoulders from injury.
Aside from their commitment to putting in work, Murphy believes all three truly have a gift to shoot the basketball.
“A lot of it is God-given, they can really shoot the ball and they all get hot, it’s not just one of them, it’s all three,” he added.
After playing his first two seasons at Canyon High School, Sean made the transition to play under his dad his junior year. Sean has flourished at Sonora and helped his pops notch the most regular season wins in over a decade.
Needless to say, both are confident they made the right choice.
“I remember last year when Sean hit five in a quarter, and I was thinking, oh my God this is the game of his life, then last summer he did it every other game.” Murphy said. “It’s really fun coaching your son, I’m glad I got the chance to do it.”
He admitted it was stressful and a rollercoaster of emotions, but concluded it was one of the best experiences in his nearly three decades at Sonora.
It wasn’t just Murphy who began to take notice of the talented shooters on his team.
Game by game, opposing coaches echoed the same takeaway — we knew it was going to be tough stopping all three shooters — nearly every coach admitting how unusual it was to face a team with that many talented shooters.
Despite their best laid plans, opposing coaches had a tough time stifling the trio this year. Behind Marlow, Murphy and Everett’s blistering shooting from beyond the arc, Sonora (25-4) finished with its best record in eight seasons.
“This team shoots the ball as good or better than any team I’ve ever had,” coach Murphy said.
“It’s a ridiculous number how many threes they have made,” coach Murphy said. “You know for a coach like me, who’s old-school, I like to see the ball passed more, but I also encourage those guys every time they’re open to shoot it.”
Marlow and Murphy both plan to play basketball in college next year. Murphy is leaning towards Irvine Valley College.
“I’m not going to stop playing until somebody tells me I have to,” Sean said.
Marlow hasn’t decided on a school, but is talking to several universities right now. The returning Freeway League MVP also carries a 4.3 GPA, which should certainly give Marlow plenty of options.
Fortunately, coach Murphy won’t lose all three, as Everett will be back next season for his senior year at Sonora.
Despite the disappointing ending Friday night, they all agreed the past two seasons were a success. Competing together in sports gives you something much more important than wins and losses, or shooting percentages and records.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Sean concluded. “I love these guys, they’ll be my friends for life.”

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Raiders CIF run ends after falling to Coyotes

Raiders CIF run ends after falling to Coyotes

Posted on 18 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Unlike Sonora, Calabasas didn’t get the luxury of a first round bye, but that didn’t seem to bother them one bit. In fact, the Coyotes felt playing twice this week helped keep them sharp in their 80-69 victory over the Raiders, who conversely appeared out of sync after the week off Friday night.
“I always believed instead of getting a bye I like playing first, and if we get a win that ultimately gives us momentum coming in,” said Calabasas guard Jack Roggin.
In Calabasas, the Raiders ultimately met a team that thrived in this particular matchup. The Coyotes have been more successful against fellow shooting teams like themselves, and have also had more success on the road versus home.
“All season long we have been winning on the road, that’s been our identity,” Roggin added.
The Raiders on the other hand, played extremely well at home, posting a 9-0 record this season coming in. However, the Raiders uncharacteristically struggled from the perimeter.
“It was one of those games where our shots just weren’t falling, I know Lucas had a good game, but it takes the whole team,” Kevin Marlow said. “I don’t think we played badly or anything, they just played a better game tonight, you have to give credit to [Calabasas], they are a great team.”
The Raiders pulled to within one a couple minutes into the third quarter when Sean Murphy nabbed a pair of offensive rebounds and finished the putbacks. But that was the closest they would get the rest of the night.
Calabasas began to pull away in the fourth as Sonora went cold from the perimeter.
Bryce Rutledge got to the line and hit one of two, then stole the inbound and dished to Lucas Everett for the easy bucket to cut the Raiders deficit to 72-65 with :35 to play.
Calabasas converted their free-throw attempts down the stretch though and their hustle finally sealed the victory.
They did miss a couple free-throw attempts on consecutive possessions, but instead of the Raiders coming down the court to cut into the lead, the Coyotes grabbed the offensive rebound and went right back to the line both times.
Calabasas’ 1-3-1 zone defense kept Sonora out of sync most of the night.
“That’s our identity right now and that’s the way we stop shooters,” Roggin said of Calabasas’ effort. “We knew they had three guys that literally make five threes a game, so that was our game plan with the zone to slow them down.”
The Raiders offense fell into the trap of swinging the ball back and forth around the perimeter with very minimal dribble-penetration into the paint. This allowed the Coyotes to keep a lot of pressure on the Raiders’ shooters, who had trouble getting open looks.
Roggin lead all scorers with 19 points, and shot 5-8 from downtown.
“We are not a big team, so there’s a lot of shooting,” Roggin said. “We know that’s what our biggest factor is, to keep hitting threes or we might get out of the game.”
The Raiders leading scorers were, Everett with 17, Carter with 16 and Marlow had 14.
Outside of Everett, who went 5-7 from beyond the arc, the rest of the team had an off night shooting. Everett will be the only starter returning next season.
Carter, Marlow, Murphy and Rutledge all plan to continue playing college ball in 2018.
Despite the early exit, Sonora finished the season with their best overall record in eight years at 25-4.

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Raiders repeat Freeway League Finals success

Raiders repeat Freeway League Finals success

Posted on 12 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Sonora may have graduated many of their top wrestlers from last season, but that didn’t stop David Carrizosa’s Raiders from dominating the 2017 Freeway League Finals tournament Friday night.

The Raiders finished with seven individual titles a year ago, last night they crowned six league champions. The Raiders will also be sending 12 wrestlers to CIF next Friday, which tops the nine qualifiers each of the previous two seasons.

One of the biggest surprises of the night was the 112-pound champion, Sonora freshman Richie Herrera. Carrizosa was certainly impressed with his Herrera, who joined the Raiders starting lineup for the first time this season after an injury last week.

“I knew Richie was good and we were confident he would place, but for him to win it, and the way he did was pretty incredible,” Carrizosa said.

Herrera blanked La Habra’s Oscar Alcala 6-0 in the semifinal round, then defeated Jacob Romo of Fullerton 13-2 in the championship.

Sonora also won the next three weight classes, Isaiah Perez at 120 pounds, Joe Lopez at 126 and Hiwad Stanekzai at 132. Both Perez and Stanekzai are now two-time league champions.

Stanekzai pinned both his semifinal and championship round opponents in less than a minute to earn Freeway League Tournament MVP of the lower weights.

Carrizosa said that Stanekzai has been a talented wrestler for a long time, but he thinks that it all came together for him the last couple weeks because he was able to devote more time on the mat. Stanekzai is a senior honor student, so earlier in the season he focused a lot of his time on applying and interviewing with colleges.

La Habra finished with one champion, 170-pounder Brandon Murray, who edged out Troy’s Tommy Hoover.

Sonora (224) finished first in team points, with Fullerton (202) in second and Troy (190) not far behind.

Sonora and the rest of the Freeway League qualifiers will travel to the Inland Empire for the CIF-SS Championships next Friday.

 Carrizosa is optimistic about his team’s chances next week, but admitted he doesn’t have one or two returning champs or top-seeds like he had the previous few years, so everybody must wrestle their best if they want to have a chance to qualify for the Master’s and State Tournaments.

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Raiders secure 5th straight title on Murphy's 600th win

Raiders secure 5th straight title on Murphy’s 600th win

Posted on 04 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Sonora closed out the regular season with a wire-to-wire 77-48 victory over Fullerton at home Thursday night to capture their fifth straight Freeway League title, and seventh in the last eight years. The win also ranked has Sonora Head Coach Mike Murphy’s 600 career win.

Coach Mike Murphy prepares the Freeway Leage Champion Raiders team.

The Raiders forced five turnovers and raced out to a 14-2 lead within the first three minutes of the opening quarter. Sean Murphy and Kevin Marlow each hit a three-pointer, while Austin Carter poured in a pair of buckets in the paint.

Junior Lucas Everett said the game plan all along was to build a big lead early, so all of the seniors could get a chance to play in their final home game.

“We wanted to try to get them as many minutes as possible,” Everett said.

Coach Murphy said that they wanted Senior Night to be the funnest game of the year, and it certainly fit the bill.

“It’s Senior Night, we got all the seniors in–most in the first half–and most of them scored, so it was just a really fun night,” he added.

Fullerton never cut the lead to single digits the rest of the way. The Indians had an opportunity with :28 left in the first half, but after Stone Sinek’s shot rimmed out, the Raiders hustled down the court in the waning seconds and Murphy found senior Michael Lopez for a corner three that splashed through the net right at the buzzer to extend the lead to 43-29 at the break.

The Raiders iced the game in spectacular fashion early in the fourth. Marlow hit back-to-back NBA range threes, then came up with a steal and found Carter hustling down in transition for a crowd-pleasing, two-handed dunk that gave the Raiders their biggest lead of the game 73-45 with five minutes to play.

Marlow lead all scorers with 24 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals.

Carter finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds and a couple assists. Perhaps most impressively though, he was still diving on the floor and going after every loose ball with the Raiders up by more than 20 points in the final quarter.

“Austin has an unbelievable motor, that’s what is so appealing about him to all of the colleges,” coach Murphy said. “He is probably the most talented player on the floor every night, and he plays as hard or harder than anybody out there.”

Sinek paced his season average with 15 points for Fullerton, with 12 coming in the first half.

The Raiders finished the regular season with a 25-3 record and went 9-1 in league, with the lone loss coming against La Habra.

“This team shoots the ball as good or better than any team I’ve ever had,” coach Murphy said. “And they’ve just got a lot of grit, they’re tough, they battle and beat teams they shouldn’t beat.”

Sonora will find out who their first round playoff matchup will be against on Sunday, when the CIF brackets are released. Murphy acknowledged that Division 1-AA will be a tough brackett, be feels confident his team can make a run at the title.

“I don’t think there is any team that we can’t compete with, so we are excited about the playoffs,” he added.

It wasn’t just the boys who dominated Senior Night at Sonora.

Earlier in the evening, the Lady Raiders ended the regular season with a wire-to-wire win of their own, defeating Fullerton 60-17.

Coach Melissa Barajas’ team finished second in the Freeway League with a 19-7 record overall and 8-2 in league. The girls only losses were to the league champs, Troy.

Barajas and the Lady Raiders will also find out their CIF matchup on Sunday.

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Emma Zener: The Lady Highlanders Sharpshooter Breaks 1,000

Emma Zener: The Lady Highlanders Sharpshooter Breaks 1,000

Posted on 26 January 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Photo by Paul Luna

Lady Highlander senior Emma Zener had a day to remember. Just a few hours after she was named La Habra’s class of 2017 co-valedictorian, Zener surpassed a milestone never before reached in school history on Tuesday night.

With her 10 points against Sunny Hills on Tuesday, Zener eclipsed 1,000 for her career and helped lift the Lady Highlanders over the Lancers.

Zener came into the game seven points shy of 1000 for her career. So her average of 11 points per game seemed to make eclipsing the milestone mostly a formality.

However, the standout sharpshooter opened the first quarter ice cold.

With friends and family filling up the La Habra gym, and the PA announcer reminding everyone in attendance of the looming milestone several times, Zener began the night uncharacteristically off from behind the arc, missing her first six shots.

“Going into the game I was a little more nervous than usual because I knew that I had family coming out and people were expecting me to hit seven more points,” Zener said. “Normally I wouldn’t see seven as that many points, but suddenly reaching that milestone was like trying to get over the hump.”

Photo by Paul Luna

As the game progressed, she turned to her defense to create some easy offense and get to the basket, which is something she and her head coach Dana Khandelwal have been working on all year.

“By this point with four years on varsity teams know she’s going to shoot, so this year we have encouraged her and really worked with her on attacking the basket,” Khandelwal said.

Midway through the second quarter Zener grabbed a rebound and took it the length of the court for a layup. And one minute later she came up with a steal and another transition bucket at the rim.

Khandelwal said Zener was already a prolific three-point shooter the past three seasons, but what has set her apart this season, has been her ability to zadrive to the basket.

That setup center Hannah McArthur to find Zener open behind the arc, and she fittingly knocked down a three to reach the rare milestone with 1:47 remaining in the first half.

“At first when my shots weren’t falling I started to get a little nervous, but then once I hit those layups, I was really happy to hit my 1000th point on a three.” Zener said.

After trailing the Lancers by a basket through the first quarter, Zener’s seven points in the second helped give the Lady Highlanders a 27-17 lead at the half, and they they never looked back.

La Habra would go on to beat Sunny Hills 52-36, with Zener adding another three in the third quarter to cement this game and her forever in the record books.

“We talked about this game last night and how we wanted to get to the third spot for the playoffs,” Khandelwal said. “We actually didn’t put too much pressure on the seven points because she’s averaging 11 [per game] now anyway, so we knew she was going to get it.”

Zener plans to continue playing basketball at the next level. The newly honored valedictorian will attend Smith College in Massachusetts, where she will play basketball and pursue a liberal arts degree.

“I wanted to go to a college where I can be a student first because I’ve always loved learning more than basketball,” she said. “I realized at a D3 I can do that, basketball is just a part of who you are, it’s not your whole identity and I love the idea of an all women’s college.”

Zener said that she realized at the beginning of her freshman year if she wanted to maintain success in both the classroom and on the court, that she would have to create a regiment for herself.

“I would say it was a lot of self discipline, with telling myself I want to be the best in school and in basketball,” Zener said. “I don’t want to be just a student or just a basketball player, but a student-athlete who excels in both.”

At 1003 and counting, Zener and the Lady Highlanders (14-6, 3-2) will have their hands full when they host Troy (13-6, 5-0) on Friday night. The Warriors hold an impressive record of their own, having won an astonishing 205 consecutive Freeway League games.

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Highlanders upset rival Raiders to end drought

Highlanders upset rival Raiders to end drought

Posted on 14 January 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Senior Devin Howlin hit a floater in the paint with :16 left to cap the La Habra’s 64-63 upset over rival Sonora Friday night, snapping the Highlanders 21-game losing streak in Freeway League play.

La Habra’s Nicholas Vega pushes past Sonora’s Lacas Everett on their way to a 64-63 upset win over the crosstown rivals.

It was a back and forth battle all night, with neither team extending the lead past 6 points the entire second half. The grueling matchup took its toll on both sides, but La Habra appeared to be the fresher team down the stretch, getting to most of the loose balls and forcing turnovers.

“Sonora is such a great team and they have a great program, so I felt like we had to play loose,” said Dave Ploog La Habra head coach. “In this city rivalry you can tense up, so our game plan was to be loose and get the shots we wanted.”

The Raiders held a 63-60 lead with just over a minute to play. After center Austin Carter missed a pair of free-throws, the Highlanders cut it to one point with just :30 on the clock.

It appeared Sonora would have the opportunity to hold for the final shot, or perhaps force La Habra to foul, but the Highlander defense forced a turnover.

“We talked a lot about having a high level of energy and really playing intense,” Ploog added.

Sonora’s Kevin Marlow denies La Habra’s Ben Peppard Friday in a close 64-63 LHHS win.

Instead of intentionally fouling, the Highlanders trapped Sean Murphy a couple feet behind the 3-point line and the refs called him for sliding his pivot foot.

“We pride ourselves this year on playing hard pressure defense” Ploog said. “I think that over the course of a game pressuring them, it forces them to make some mistakes.”

The costly turnover paved the way for Howlin’s game-winner.

“Towards the end of the game we called Devin’s number and we asked him what he wanted to do, because we want to trust our guys and their play,” Ploog said. “He wanted to take his guy one on one, he trusted his jump shot and hit a big shot for us.”

Murphy had a chance at redemption with an open look from straight away, but his shot rimmed out as time expired.

“I think we just came out flat tonight, we might have underestimated them a little bit,” Murphy said.

Sonora held a narrow lead as time ticked down in third quarter as well, but in a bit of foreshadowing Howlin drove down the lane and scored with :17 on the clock to put his team up 49-48 heading into the fourth.

“Devin’s been our leading scorer this season, he’s our leader, our best rebounder,” Ploog said of his captian.

Howlin lead all scorers with 23 points and also had a team-best 9 rebounds.

Kevin Marlow scored a team-high 21 points, and Carter had a double-double with 13 and 10 for the Raiders.

La Habra (7-11, 1-1) will continue Freeway League play Tuesday night when they host Buena Park (16-2, 0-1).

Sonora (17-3, 1-1) will look to get back on track when they host Sunny Hills (12-8, 1-1) Tuesday night.

“The good thing about basketball though, is we get to play them again at home in a couple weeks,” Murphy said.

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Lady Raiders dominate opening act on rivalry night

Lady Raiders dominate opening act on rivalry night

Posted on 14 January 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The Sonora girls team took the opening game of rivalry night, defeating the

Sonora’s Meghann Henderson lead the Lady Raiders with 27 points and lead them to a 60-31 victory over La Habra.

Lady Highlanders 60-31 behind Meghann Henderson’s 27-point game.

Sonora lead from tipoff through the final whistle Friday.

The Raiders took a 20-point lead into the half, but came out in the third quarter with even more intensity to extend the lead the rest of the way.

Barajas said that she talked to the team at halftime about keeping the intensity up despite the lopsided score. “This is their home court and they’re not going to just stop playing,” she added.

The Lady Highlanders offense finally started to click in the fourth quarter. Samantha Esquivel popped for 9 of her 11 points to help La Habra outscore Sonra 12-8 down the stretch, but the game was well out of reach by then.

Esquivel finished with 11 points for La Habra (11-6).

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Lady Raiders halt Santa Margarita late

Lady Raiders halt Santa Margarita late

Posted on 08 January 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The Sonora girls basketball team grabbed its first lead on the opening possession of the fourth quarter, then held Santa

Sonora’s Elizabeth Yoshitake drives past a Santa Margarita defender Saturday at Mater Dei High School.

Margarita without a field goal the rest of the way to down the Eagles 32-29 Saturday afternoon in the Matt Denning Hoops Classic at Mater Dei High School.

 

The Raiders (10-5) trailed nearly the entire game and entered the fourth still down a point 28-27. Elizabeth Yoshitake drained a 3-pointer to begin the fourth and Sonora never relinquished the lead again.

Sonora held a 32-29 lead with :22 remaining and possession of the basketball. The Eagles last-ditch effort to force Sonora to the free throw line took a little too long because they still had five fouls to give. With :03 to play, junior Lainie James actually missed the free throw, but the Eagles half-court shot fell well short.

The Eagles missed on 11 consecutive field goal attempts in the fourth quarter, largely due to the Raiders defensive pressure late in the game. Their lone score in the fourth quarter came on a Jessica Fracker free-throw.

Sonora Head Coach Melissa Barajas attributed the hard fought victory to her team playing top notch competition all season.

“Our kids are battle tested,” Barajas said. “Things weren’t necessarily going our way on offense, but we stuck with it, we were battling on defense, battling on the boards and that is something we were not as strong with early in the year.”

Yoshitake lead all scorers with 12 points. Meghann Henderson finished right behind with 11 for Sonora.

Tori Anderson lead the Eagles with 11 points.

The Matt Denning Hoops Classic was the Raiders’  final tuneup before Freeway League play begins. Sonora will host Buena Park (9-4) on Tuesday night, then head to La Habra (11-4) to take on the Lady Highlanders on Friday.

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Raiders pounce on Wildcats

Raiders pounce on Wildcats

Posted on 08 January 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

 Austin Carter and Kevin Marlow combined for 16 in the opening quarter to give Sonora an early lead and the Raiders outpaced Wildcats the rest of the way to win their seventh straight Friday night at Brea 83-57.

Sonora’s Kevin Marlow puts one up against Brea  in the Raider’s 85-57 win Friday.

After winning four consecutive games over top notch competition to take their division at the Under Armour Holiday Classic in San Diego over the break, the Raiders were brimming with confidence, and it showed early on in Brea.

Marlow’s hot shooting from downtown continued. The senior shooting guard sank a pair from downtown early and notched 9 first-quarter-points.

“Marlow has been playing at a really high level,” said Head Coach Mike Murphy. “He gets from point-A to point-B as fast as anybody.”

Carter dominated the paint with 7 points to give the Raiders a commanding 22-5 lead over the Wildcats heading into the second quarter.

“I’ve been at Sonora for 27 years and I’ve never had anybody as strong as him,” Murphy said.

“We try to establish ourselves inside at the beginning of the game, it spreads out the offense,” Marlow said. “We like to feed Austin and that forces the defense to collapse to double him, and that really opens it up for our shooters.”

Despite the dominant start, the Raiders never really put the game much farther out of reach, outscoring the Wildcats just 61-54 the rest of the way.

Murphy acknowledged afterwards that executing for a full four quarters is something that his team still needs to work on.

Sonora’s Sean Murphy splits Brea defenders on his way to the basket in the Raider’s 85-57 win Friday.  

“I thought we came out with great energy in the first quarter, we shared the ball and moved the ball really well,” Murphy said. “What often happens with high school kids, once we got up by 20, everybody was out there for their own, the ball wasn’t moving, we weren’t sharing and we kinda stopped executing.”

“We jumped on them early, but I think we got complacent a little bit and took our foot off the gas pedal,” Marlow said. “I think we executed ok, we just didn’t play with the same intensity as we usually do, but that’s something we can work on and easily fix.”

 Carter finished with a game high 21 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots. Marlow was close behind with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals.

Sophomore Maceo Reddick finally got Brea going, scoring 7 of his 10 points in the second quarter. Tyler Clark led the Wildcats with 13 points, all of which coming in the second half.

The Raiders (16-2) will begin Freeway League play Tuesday night at home when they host Buena Park (14-1). Much like last season, the Coyotes figure to be the Raiders toughest competition in league.

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