Raiders start North OC Tourney strong
By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal
The Sonora Raiders basketball team cruised through their first two games of the North Orange County Tournament.
The Raiders started with a 71-54 win over Diamond Bar, and then dominated Long Beach Wilson winning 79-32.
The Raiders could be playing up to 5 games in 6 days, if they continue to play this well.
Much of the Raiders success can be attributed to the hot shooting from seniors Josh Rodriguez and Christian Rhodes.
In the two games, Rodriguez has scored 43 total points and Christian Rhodes has scored 49 points between the two games.
Christian Rhodes was shooting especially well against Wilson scoring 30 points in just three quarters.
“It’s always fun when you’re shooting like 90 percent from the 3 point line,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes wanted to go after the school record of 43 points, but Murphy had different plans.
“You know with Christian the school record would probably be 60 if I let players play all four quarters in games like this,” Murphy said describing a conversation with his shooting guard.
“Christian Rhodes was just on fire, he just had a remarkable game,”
Rhodes got off too a quick start, knocking down his first two three pointers and ended up with 12 points in the first quarter.
“I always have confidence, but normally I’m a pass first kind of player, and so tonight I was feeling it so then I became a shoot first, and they just kept going in,” Rhodes said.
He continued his hot shooting adding 13 in the second quarter, though most of these came from easy layups as the Raiders were able to get out in transition.
The pace the Raiders played at was indicative of the pace they’d like to play moving forward.
With Rodriguez and Rhodes creating a constant outside threat, they were able to open up the inside game where Steven Murphy was able to finish three untouched layups.
“Dude its ridiculous, like nobody can guard us if we make shots, its literally impossible,” Rodriguez said.
“I was so happy for Steven,” Mike Murphy said as he compared how strong his performances were down the stretch last year.
“He started to break out a little bit against Woodbridge, and then tonight Josh found him four or five times with some great passes, and Steven finished really nicely,” Murphy said.
In addition to their red hot shooting, the Raiders played lock down defense forcing tough shots the entire game.
“Our team is a high powered offense, so most of the time our practices focus on defense, and our offense is always going to be there, but our defense keeps increasingly getting better, that’s just only going to help us out in the long run for playoffs,” Rhodes said.
The Raiders led after the first quarter up 23-8, and were up 44-17 at halftime.
The Raiders struggled with foul trouble in the first two quarters, but you would never have noticed based on their body language.
“They responded way better, their body language was much better, we’ve been talking about it, Murphy said.
After Friday’s game against Woodbridge, Murphy wanted to make sure they paid attention to their emotions.
“They’re 16 and 17 year old kids, and they’re emotional and they play with a lot of emotion, and that’s what makes us good too, the fact that they care so much and they play with that intensity,”
With the game under control Murphy let the bench get some valuable minutes together, allowing Sophomores Bryce Rutledge, Austin Carter, and Kevin Marlow to develop some chemistry together.
The Raiders next step will be in the knockout rounds, where they will start on Thursday night.