Sports

Sonora completes first undefeated league season since 2001, Lady Raiders force one-game playoff

Josh Rodriguez led the Raiders with26 points as Sonora defeated Sunny Hills 83-73, Thursday night at Sonora.
Josh Rodriguez led the Raiders with26 points as Sonora defeated Sunny Hills 83-73, Thursday night at Sonora.

by Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal

The Sonora boys basketball team finished off their undefeated run through the Freeway League with an 83-73 victory over Sunny Hills, Friday, at Sonora.  They are the first team to go undefeated in Freeway League play since 2001.

“This is a special team,” said senior Roy Saucedo. “We came into the year and this was our goal. To be able to do it shows a lot about our team.”

Josh Rodriguez led the offensive attack for Sonora. Rodriguez had 26 points and also added nine rebounds and three assists. Of the 26 points, 12 came in the second quarter alone.

“My shots started falling and I felt like I could make anything,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t even describe how we feel right now.”

Besides Rodriguez, four other Raiders scored in double figures.

Adam Marlow had 15 points. Ben Rico had 13 points. Steven Murphy had 11 and Christian Rhodes had 10.

Rico was held scoreless until he got a steal and nailed a buzzer-beating three-point shot from well beyond the arc at the end of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Rico erupted for 10 points and began to attack the basket more.

“Ben was huge for us tonight,” head coach Mike Murphy said. “He made that three and got the confidence back. He did a really good job adjusting his game.”

Along with the balanced effort in points, the Raiders also had four guys with at least nine rebounds. Rico led the team with 10, and picked up his second consecutive double double.  Murphy, Rodriguez and Saucedo had nine each.

Sonora did not start the senior Saucedo and elected to go with Christian Rhodes due to his 10-point performance against the Lancers earlier this season. As soon as Saucedo came in he took over the game with some big rebounds.

“We didn’t start Roy today and it seemed like he played that much harder,” Mike Murphy said. “He is an energy guy for sure and he came in and just played harder than anybody else on the court. His rebounds late were huge and he got us some extra possessions to help run some clock off.”

Now that the regular season is over, the Raiders will turn their attention to the CIF playoffs. They are going in as one of the favorites in Division 2A and look to make a deep run.

“We are through the roof right now after finishing undefeated,” Marlow said. “But, we need to get back at it and play some basketball. We can’t let it get to out heads.”

Mike Murphy is in his 29th year as a high school head coach and knows that this team may be one of his best chances for an elusive CIF championship.

“I am 0-29 in CIF,” Mike Murphy said. “This is a special team. This team has as good of a chance as any team I have had in a long time.”

GIRLS VARSITY

The Sonora girls’ basketball team finished its 2014 campaign on a strong note with a 59-45 victory over visiting Sunny Hills, Thursday night.

Meghann Henderson led a Lady Raiders’ charge with 17 points, while Lauren Nakahara scored 13 points and Marissa Dunn added 12 points.

Sonora got off to a quick start and held a 38-24 lead at halftime.

After a slow third quarter, the Lady Raiders outscored the Lady Lancers 16-9 in the final quarter to take the win.

The win by Sonora created a three-way tie for third place in the Freeway League.

The Lady Raiders will face Sunny Hills again, Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Sonora High.

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