Sports

Size disadvantage dooms Lady Raiders in first round against Patriot

Senior Lauren Nakahara scored nine points in her final game at Sonora High. The Lady Raiders fell to Patriot in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs, 52-39 at Patriot High, Saturday night.
Senior Lauren Nakahara scored nine points in her final game at Sonora High. The Lady Raiders fell to Patriot in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs, 52-39 at Patriot High, Saturday night.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

RIVERSIDE – After earning a spot in the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs as an at-large team, the Sonora girls’ basketball team couldn’t overcome a size disadvantage against Patriot, falling 52-39 in the first round, Saturday night at Patriot High.

The Lady Warriors dominated in the paint on both sides of the ball, blocking shots on the defensive end, while backing in Sonora’s interior defenders and knocking down layups on the offensive end.

“We struggled attacking the zone, at times we did what we wanted,” Barajas said. “We got a little flustered in the beginning and we weren’t really disciplined about setting picks or reading the right gaps. When we did, I thought we got some good looks, but we needed to do that consistently.”

Patriot’s Tamia Hewitt led all scorers with 16 points and did all of her damage in the paint. Sabrina Avery added 12 points for the Lady Warriors.

Defensively, Sonora tried using a full-court press to speed up Patriot’s offense with the hopes that it led to turnovers.

However, when Patriot got the ball across midcourt, it found success by getting the ball into the interior.

“We knew that once they got to half court, their size and strength would be imposing on us,” Barajas said. “We needed to get our double teams a little bit quicker off the block. Once they got inside, there wasn’t much we could do.”

Offensively, Patriot’s size and zone defense prevented the Lady Raiders from attempting to push shots inside.

Instead, Sonora had to settle for outside jumpers, but they weren’t falling early on as Patriot led 29-8 after the first half.

After the Lady Warriors (23-3) pushed the lead to its highest point at 34-11, the Lady Raiders found some success in the fourth quarter.

Megan Matsumoto hit two 3-pointers, while Andrea Agramon and Lauren Nakahara added five points each in the final quarter, but the deficit was too much to overcome.

“I thought we gave great effort today, but we really needed to turn them over a bit more,” Barajas said.

Marissa Dunn led the Lady Raiders with 10 points, while Matsumoto and Nakahara added nine points each.

In addition to her point total, Hewitt added 10 rebounds, while Avery secured nine rebounds for Patriot.

The loss ends Sonora’s season at 11-16 overall, but the playoff experience should provide a benefit for the future.

“This is extremely valuable, we were so excited for all these opportunities because it sort of gets the fear out,” Barajas said. “They know what to expect in the coming years, they know how to prepare, they know what the top teams are going to look like. Our future looks bright and we know that the kids are going to put in the work to get to the next level.”

Barajas will be losing two seniors to graduation, one being starting point guard Nakahara, who had been a varsity starter for three years.

“Both are really great kids,” Barajas said. “Lauren has been a major part of our success. This year was obviously tough…but she’s a tough kid, she’s never missed a practice, she’s there every day working hard. I’m so proud of her and I know she’s going to have a bright future with whatever she does because she’s such a great kid and has a great work ethic.”

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