Raiders lack effort despite win, Sonora girls hoops dominate Buena Park
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
Coming off the excitement of earning Mike Murphy his milestone win, the Sonora boys’ basketball team was lucky to escape with a 56-52 victory over Buena Park, Wednesday night on the road.
The Raiders struggled to find any offensive consistency against Buena Park’s quick and athletic interior and trailed for most of the second quarter before taking the lead for good on a run just before halftime.
Ben Rico was Sonora’s saving grace, scoring 21 points, which included two free throws with two seconds left to seal a win that was in jeopardy through most of the fourth quarter. Rico also hauled in eight rebounds.
“I told our guys that in the 24 years I’ve been coaching here, I’ve never had a team come out and give that little effort in a game,” Murphy said. “I thought it was the worst game we’ve played in 24 years, I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t know what was going on.”
Josh Rodriguez hit two free throws to give the Raiders their largest lead at seven points in the third quarter, but Buena Park’s Deven Boston and June Rodriguez led a Buena Park charge that put pressure on Sonora throughout the second half.
Every time the Raiders found a two-possession lead in the fourth quarter, Coyotes’ guard Joe Galvan cut it with a timely 3-pointer. June Rodriguez added seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.
“Give them a lot of credit, they were tougher, quicker, they played way harder than we did and they beat us to every rebound,” Murphy said. “That played a huge part of it. We just couldn’t keep up with the game.”
Steven Murphy countered with two inside baskets, while Rico and Adam Marlow combined for seven free throws to preserve the slim margin of victory.
The Raiders went 5-for-26 from 3-point range, Marlow went 1-for-10 from the floor and Steven Murphy struggled to hit layups in the second quarter.
In addition, Josh Rodriguez went 2-for-11 from the floor and 1-for-8 from long range. He fouled out with 1:50 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“It’s tough to beat anyone like that, luckily we made free throws at the end,” Mike Murphy said. “We’ve been looking to try and find a positive and we just can’t find one.”
The struggles started immediately for the Raiders (17-3, 3-0), who scored their first four points on Rico free throws and committed three early turnovers.
Frustrated with his team’s inability to run plays, Mike Murphy cleared his bench to replace every starter except for Rico in an attempt to send a message.
However, after surviving the quarter with an 8-8 tie, the team still couldn’t put it together in the second quarter and fell behind.
Boston scored six of his team-high 17 points in the second quarter as the Coyotes (8-12, 0-3) led with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.
However, Josh Rodriguez hit a go-ahead layup and Jason McClung hit a buzzer-beating layup to give the Raiders a 25-21 halftime lead.
Mike Murphy believes that the lack of effort could have been the result of the team’s tendencies in practice.
“We haven’t had a good practice in two weeks,” Mike Murphy said. “When you have success, they think they don’t have to practice, they’ll come and they’ll win and it doesn’t work that way.”
The Raiders will try to improve upon Wednesday night’s performance when they host city rival La Habra, Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
“We need to come to practice ready to go,” Murphy said. “We just have to start practicing again.”
Continuing its theme of full-court pressure defense, the Sonora girls’ basketball team effectively bullied host Buena Park in the first quarter, which led to a 52-12 league win, Wednesday night.
The Lady Raiders forced 22 turnovers in the first quarter alone, while sophomore Marissa Dunn sparked the offense early and Sonora led 22-0.
In addition to the forced turnovers, Sonora allowed just one shot attempt by Buena Park (4-8, 0-3) in the first quarter.
“We really liked the way they pressured the ball and they did it without fouling,” said Melissa Barajas, Sonora head coach. “We’ve been working on a couple things to add to our defensive scheme and the girls stuck to that today, so we’re really happy.”
Dunn led the Lady Raiders with 20 points and scored Sonora’s first nine points of the contest. Angela Rodriguez added six points late in the quarter.
Meghann Henderson added 14 points, distributing them evenly with seven points in each half.
“It was great to see her come out and be aggressive,” Barajas said. “As a sophomore, she has some breakout games and there are times where she isn’t as aggressive or it doesn’t come early in games. We know she has it in her, it’s just a matter of being consistent and being offensive minded.”
The Lady Raiders (9-9, 2-1) kept up the pressure throughout, allowing no more than six points in any quarter.
Offensively, Sonora was aggressive, scoring most of their points inside or at the free throw line. Sonora attempted just eight 3-pointers and hit two of them.
Valeria Ortiz scored four points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Lady Coyotes.
After back-to-back big wins, the Lady Raiders may have a boost of confidence heading into their rivalry matchup with La Habra, Friday night at Sonora.
“I thought our last two games helped with our confidence,” Barajas said. “Even early on, when we were doing well defensively, we couldn’t put the ball in the hoop. Being able to finish in these last couple games definitely gives us more confidence.”