Sonora holds off Sunny Hills on the road, Lady Raiders fall
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
In his first two seasons as a starter on the varsity basketball team, Sonora senior guard Adam Marlow had not been able to celebrate a Raiders victory at Sunny Hills High.
On Wednesday night, with the score tied 56-56 and 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, the senior took matters into his own hands by driving the lane and dropping in two tough layups to lead to a 62-60 victory over the Lancers.
“This was huge, I’ve never won here, it feels pretty good,” Marlow said. “[Coach] Murphy told me to step up, be the senior on the team and make a big shot and see what I had inside. It was open, so I just took it and made it count.”
Marlow finished with 12 points, saving his two best shots until the team needed them in the fourth quarter.
Josh Rodriguez and Ben Rico led the Raiders with 17 points each and Christian Rhodes provided a huge boost off the bench with 10 points.
The trio combined to score 23 of Sonora’s 27 points in a second quarter that saw the Raiders turn a four-point deficit into a 42-30 halftime lead.
“Last year, they got up early on us and we couldn’t get it back, so this year we talked about that in practice,” Marlow said. “We knew they would make a run and that we would have to get it back. It shows how tough we are as a team and how much we’ve grown over the past year that we can take a punch like that and keep fighting.”
The Raiders struggled against Sunny Hills’ aggressive defense in the second half, but Sonora’s zone defense also slowed down the Lancers’ fast-paced offense.
That was, until Max Thurman took over. The senior guard scored 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and single-handedly led the charge to tie the score late in the fourth quarter.
He also made four of the Lancers’ eight 3-pointers.
“They were tough, we practiced a lot for them and we were pretty ready,” Marlow said. “They’re quick and they shoot 3s, so you know what you’re going to get, but it’s still tough to stop.”
Added Murphy, “I’m glad there wasn’t another minute left in that fourth quarter, because they were charging.”
The Raiders (19-3, 5-0) had to overcome a lightning fast Sunny Hills start. The Lancers made their first seven shots of the game, taking a 15-5 lead and forcing Murphy to call two timeouts.
After the second timeout, the Raiders switched to the zone defense and the offense found its rhythm.
The Raiders took the lead immediately in the second quarter thanks to a 7-0 run. Rhodes and Rico each scored eight points in the quarter and Rico’s slick no-look pass to Steven Murphy for an easy layup increased Sonora’s lead to seven points with 2:15 remaining in the half.
While the Raiders were flowing, Sunny Hills (14-8, 4-1) went cold from the floor in the second quarter, making just 3-of-16 shots from the floor and only 1-of-9 3-pointers.
Murphy prevented any second chance opportunities by grabbing seven rebounds in the quarter. He finished with 10 rebounds and four points.
“I wish we could have given him the ball a little bit more tonight,” Murphy said. “We don’t win the game without Steven tonight.”
Rodriguez added seven points in the quarter and the Raiders pushed the lead to 42-30 at the break. Sonora outscored the Lancers 27-11 in the quarter.
Thurman scored nine points in the second quarter and made 4-of-6 free throws after he was fouled on two 3-point shots.
The Lancers’ Ryan Tan and Tim Ahn combined for three 3-pointers in the third quarter to help Sunny Hills claw back before the wild finish.
Both teams came into the contest tied undefeated in the Freeway League. The Raiders will start the second round of league play on the road against Troy, Friday.
“This is the biggest win we’ve had all year,” Murphy said. “Now we get Troy on Friday with just one day of preparation, that’s going to be a difficult challenge.”
With a chance to keep sole possession of third place in the Freeway League, the Sonora girls’ basketball team struggled to hit shots and grab rebounds in a 46-34 loss to Sunny Hills, Wednesday night at Sunny Hills High.
After fighting for an early lead, the Lady Raiders struggled against Sunny Hills’ quick defense in the second and fourth quarters.
Marissa Dunn led the Lady Raiders with 11 points and eight rebounds, but no other Sonora player scored more than five points.
After having a couple breakout performances, Meghann Henderson managed just four points, all on free throws.
“We tried to run some stuff to get her the ball, but at the same time we really need some other girls to step up and help with the offensive load,” said Melissa Barajas, Sonora head coach. “Everybody in the league knows to try to stop her, so we need other kids who are willing to step up, make free throws and finish layups.”
On the defensive side, Sonora (9-11, 2-3) struggled to contain Sunny Hills’ Justis Simpson, who scored a game-high 21 points.
Simpson scored six of those points in the second quarter as the Lady Lancers turned a three-point deficit into a 20-14 halftime lead.
Guard Jennifer Vinh crippled the Lady Raiders with back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter as Sunny Hills opened up a double-digit lead.
Sunny Hills (12-9, 2-3) cruised to victory in the fourth quarter.
Lauren Fruto led Sunny Hills with eight rebounds, while Simpson and forward Victoria Vo added seven rebounds each.
“I just think that we aren’t very tough yet,” Barajas said. “Even though they’re a little faster, we felt like we were able to make them take shots and speed up the game, but in order to do that we had to rebound. We let them get every offensive rebound they wanted and that completely defeats our style of play.”
The Lady Raiders have lost back-to-back league games and it won’t get any easier with a road game against Troy coming up on Friday.
Sonora finished the first round of league play tied with Sunny Hills for third place at 2-3.
“We just have to pick up our intensity, I just don’t feel like we’re competing at a varsity level,” Barajas said. “We don’t win loose balls, we don’t play with the toughness that it takes to compete at this level. We need to get that from them in practice.”