Sports

Raiders continue success against the Trinity League

Josh Rodriguez scored 16 points against Orange Lutheran, but struggled from the field, hitting just 5-of-20 field goals, Thursday night at Sonora High.
Josh Rodriguez scored 16 points against Orange Lutheran, but struggled from the field, hitting just 5-of-20 field goals, Thursday night at Sonora High.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

The Sonora boys’ basketball team’s quick start turned out to make the difference in a 57-52 win over Orange Lutheran at home, Thursday night in the championship bracket of the North Orange County Championships.

In defeating a third Trinity League contender, the Raiders led by as many as 14 in the second quarter and held on throughout the second half as the Lancers made a push in each of the third and fourth quarters.

“We know that the Trinity League is the toughest in Southern California, so this is really big for us,” said Jason Stein, Sonora interim co-head coach. “Especially being little Sonora from North Orange County, it’s nice to knock off the big boys. We know they still have Mater Dei, JSerra and St. John Bosco who are powerhouses, but it’s still fun.”

Guard Josh Rodriguez pushed through a rough shooting night to score 16 points and Ben Rico matched with 16 points of his own as the duo led the Raiders.

Adam Marlow not only played tough defense on Lancers’ leading scorer CJ Jankins, but the senior guard came up with some big shots when Sonora needed them most. He also made 5-of-8 free throws down the stretch to help seal the win.

“Adam has been unbelievable, he’s the glue of our team,” Stein said. “He gives up some of his offensive game to guard our opponent’s best perimeter players, he’s just so selfless, I’m really proud of him.”

Jankins led Orange Lutheran with 16 points, while forward Anthony Lefeau added 12 points in defeat.

The Lancers had a noticeable size advantage and won the rebound battle, however, second-chance points were hard to come by for Orange Lutheran.

“I thought we did a great job on the boards even though we were really outsized,” Stein said.

The key for the Raiders was in how they started the game. An early 9-1 run gave the Raiders a comfortable lead.

Rodriguez scored nine of his 16 points in the first quarter as Sonora led 18-8.

“We started off really well, but they picked up their defensive intensity over the last three quarters,” Stein said. “I thought we were just really flat.”

Baskets by Rico and Marlow gave Sonora its biggest lead at 22-8, but the Lancers would consistently reduce the deficit from there.

Lefeau hit a pair of 3-pointers to give the Lancers some momentum, despite Sonora’s 30-24 lead at the half.

After a low-scoring third quarter, Rico started the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to give the Raiders a seven-point lead.

However, midway through the quarter, Jankins pulled the Lancers to a two-point deficit with a pair of 3-pointers.

Marlow responded with a runner that bounced off the backboard and in. The senior was fouled on the play, but missed the ensuing free throw.

The two-point deficit would be the closest Orange Lutheran came in a game that Sonora led throughout. In the Lancers’ final two possessions, they couldn’t convert on second-chance opportunities.

“In the fourth quarter, we really stepped it up big time and played a little zone,” Stein said. “I think that threw them off balance, but in the end, our man defense came through.”

The Raiders will play La Mirada at home, tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.