Raiders shoot their way past Monache in first round of South regionals
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
After struggling to hit shots late in a CIF Division 2A Championship game loss, the Sonora boys’ basketball team redeemed itself with eight first-half 3-pointers, which led to a 72-54 win over Monache High of Porterville in the first round of the Division 2 State playoffs, Wednesday night at Sonora High.
The Raiders took control in the second quarter behind Ben Rico, who hit four of his six 3-pointers and scored 16 of his game-high 27 points in the quarter.
“It all started right after the game on Saturday, we feel that we should not have lost that game,” Rico said. “We came out strong and ready to play, everything was solid tonight. We played great as a team.”
Defensively, Sonora (29-4) pressed the outside, forcing Monache off the 3-point line and forcing them to try to make a run inside.
However, the Marauders (20-8) struggled in getting the ball inside as guards Josh Rodriguez and Christian Rhodes picked the ball away around the perimeter.
“I think Christian Rhodes has been the guy with his defense,” said Mike Murphy, Sonora head coach. “Adam Marlow is always a great defender, but in our last two games, Christian has changed the game with his defense. He did a great job tonight.”
On the other end, Sonora’s long-distance shooting gave it separation in the first half as Sonora held a 43-22 advantage at the break.
Rodriguez hit two triples in the first quarter, while Rico scored five points to lead the Raiders to a seven-point cushion after the first quarter.
But at one point, Rico hit four consecutive 3-pointers to push the advantage to double digits.
“We have the most confidence in the world here at home,” Rico said. “That played an advantage tonight.”
With a 21-point advantage, Sonora focused on its defense in the second half. Rhodes’ quick hands led to six Monache turnovers in the third quarter and Rodriguez benefitted on the other end with a pair of fastbreak layups.
“We saw that they played a lot like Sunny Hills, which worked for us because we also like to play fast,” Rodriguez said. “In practice we have great communication, when we get a turnover, I can see the pass is going to be long, but we make eye contact and find each other.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, Murphy began substituting in his bench.
With two minutes remaining and a 70-45 lead, Murphy took out his remaining starters.
Steven Murphy added nine points and eight rebounds, while Austin Dunn scored five points in the fourth quarter.
Guard Adam Marlow finished with six assists.
For Monache, Sal Arredondo led the way with nine points and seven rebounds, while Miguel Mejia also scored nine points. Two others scored eight points for the Marauders.
For the Raiders, it was the program’s first game in a State Championship bracket in over 30 years.
Sonora, the No. 8 seed in the South Regional bracket, will travel to Bellflower to take on No. 1 St. John Bosco in the South Regional quarterfinals, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“We just want to compete,” Rodriguez said. “There’s going to be a bunch of scouts, we just want to make a name for ourselves.”