Late burst lifts the Raiders over La Mirada again
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
In what turned into a wild sprint toward the finish line, the Sonora boys’ basketball team handed La Mirada a second loss this season by outlasting the Matadores in the fourth quarter en route to an 85-79 win at home, Friday night.
With the score tied at the end of three quarters, the Raiders put up 30 points in the fourth quarter and jumped out to a nine-point lead in just over three minutes.
“They’re really mentally tough, nothing scares them or throws them for a loop,” Sonora interim co-coach Jason Stein said of his team’s fourth-quarter mentality. “They’re just competitors, kind of the John Wooden idea of competitive greatness, give your best when the best is needed and they did that tonight.”
Ben Rico led the charge for Sonora, scoring 10 of his game-high 31 points in the quarter. Josh Rodriguez added support with eight of his 21 points scored in the final frame. Rodriguez added seven assists.
In all, four players scored in double digits for Sonora. Adam Marlow and Christian Rhodes scored 13 points each and the Raiders hit 12 3-pointers, six of which were made in the first quarter.
“Josh has the ability to go off on any given night and has had a couple big games, but Ben has been our leading scorer all season and he made some big shots tonight,” Stein said. “Adam, Christian and Steven [Murphy] all have the ability to have big nights too. We have a lot of guys who can score.”
But the Matadores (8-7) never went away due in large part to Lucio Bolado’s 17 second-half points. Bolado connected on all three of his field goal tries in the third quarter, two from beyond the arc, to help La Mirada pull even with Sonora at 55-55 at the end of the third quarter.
However, early 3-pointers by Rico and Rodriguez, along with a jump shot and three free throws by Rhodes fueled the Raiders to an 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter.
Despite being challenged, the Raiders (13-3) never trailed after that point.
“They stuck together and knew they had to do this as a team,” Stein said. “It’s not going to be one individual, we have to do it together. The guys pick each other up. Tonight wasn’t Steven Murphy’s best game, but he played great for us in San Diego. Roy Saucedo was able to fill in for him and play great defense for us tonight.”
Both teams benefited from 8-0 runs in the first quarter, but it was Sonora’s long-range shooting that made the difference. Rico and Rhodes each showcased their range with a pair of 3-pointers, but it was Marlow’s eight points that helped Sonora gain a 25-20 lead.
However, behind 6-foot-8 Kendall Lauderdale, La Mirada clawed back in the second and third quarters. Lauderdale went to work inside, scoring seven of his 20 points in the second quarter. He also hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds.
Bolado finished with a team-high 24 points, while Dezmon Murphy and Vittorio Reynoso-Avila also scored in double digits with 18 and 11 points, respectively.
Sonora held a 41-38 lead at halftime thanks to an 11-point second quarter from Rico, who hit five of his seven shots in the quarter. He was held in check in the third quarter before erupting in the fourth.
The Raiders are 2-0 at home against La Mirada this season. Sonora defeated the Matadores 62-49 in the semifinals of the North Orange County Championships last month.
“They’re good, I figured both teams would shoot it better and we knew they would make adjustments and that it would be tough to get them again,” Stein said. “It was a big advantage playing them at home again, I think it would have been really tough to play at their place. They have some studs on their team, it was a really good win.”
Sonora prepares for one final nonleague game against Dana Hills in the North/South OC Challenge, tomorrow at 6 p.m. at El Toro High.