Raiders overcome shaky start to down Wolverines

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The Sonora boys basketball team struggled to find the basket early on, but erupted with a monster third quarter to come from behind and beat Aliso Niguel 70-59 Thursday night at home, advancing the Raiders to the semifinals of the North Orange County LA Auto Show 2016Championships tournament.

With guard Bryce Rutledge sitting nearly the entire game dealing with an injury, senior Jonathan Martinez stepped up to fill the void nicely.

Martinez knocked down a pair of clutch three-pointers and poured in 10 of his 14 points to help Sonora outscore Aliso 28-9 in the third quarter.

“I’ve always told him [Martinez] he’s like our sixth starter, he’s a terrific player” said Sonora Head Coach Mike Murphy. “It’s really nice to have a player like him to fall back on.”

The Raiders quickly found themselves down 10-0 midway through the first and opened the game an abysmal 1-11 from the field.

“It’s intensity, it’s becoming a problem, we’re always battling back and we don’t come out and play hard until we get down,” Murphy said. “We’ve had several games down 18, down 8, down 10 in the fourth quarter and we’ve been able to comeback and win, but at some point you’re not going to be able to do that.”

Lucas Everett scored Sonora’s first field goal with 2:40 left in the first quarter to make it 12-3. Everett, who led all scorers with 22 points, came back down the court and drained one of his four three-pointers on the night to breathe life into the home arena.

After chasing Aliso uphill for the better part of three quarters, the Raiders sank three consecutive from downtown to finally pull even with the Wolverines at 4:21 in the third quarter. The Raiders would go on to outscore 17-2 in the final four minutes of the frame.

Aliso made a push late in the fourth and were nearly successful trading two-for-one with intentional fouls the final 1:53. The Wolverines got as close as 6 points, but eventually Austin Carter made three-of-four from the line on consecutive possessions to shut the door for good.

Carter got into foul trouble on a couple loose-ball fouls and had to sit the final few minutes of the first half. He finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Dylan Dickerson got off to a hot start for Aliso (6-3), scoring 12 of his team-high 15 points in the first quarter.

Sonora (9-1) has now won three consecutive at the North Orange County Championships tournament. The Raiders will host undefeated Capistrano Valley (8-0) Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

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