By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal
Unlike Sonora, Calabasas didn’t get the luxury of a first round bye, but that didn’t seem to bother them one bit. In fact, the Coyotes felt playing twice this week helped keep them sharp in their 80-69 victory over the Raiders, who conversely appeared out of sync after the week off Friday night.
“I always believed instead of getting a bye I like playing first, and if we get a win that ultimately gives us momentum coming in,” said Calabasas guard Jack Roggin.
In Calabasas, the Raiders ultimately met a team that thrived in this particular matchup. The Coyotes have been more successful against fellow shooting teams like themselves, and have also had more success on the road versus home.
“All season long we have been winning on the road, that’s been our identity,” Roggin added.
The Raiders on the other hand, played extremely well at home, posting a 9-0 record this season coming in. However, the Raiders uncharacteristically struggled from the perimeter.
“It was one of those games where our shots just weren’t falling, I know Lucas had a good game, but it takes the whole team,” Kevin Marlow said. “I don’t think we played badly or anything, they just played a better game tonight, you have to give credit to [Calabasas], they are a great team.”
The Raiders pulled to within one a couple minutes into the third quarter when Sean Murphy nabbed a pair of offensive rebounds and finished the putbacks. But that was the closest they would get the rest of the night.
Calabasas began to pull away in the fourth as Sonora went cold from the perimeter.
Bryce Rutledge got to the line and hit one of two, then stole the inbound and dished to Lucas Everett for the easy bucket to cut the Raiders deficit to 72-65 with :35 to play.
Calabasas converted their free-throw attempts down the stretch though and their hustle finally sealed the victory.
They did miss a couple free-throw attempts on consecutive possessions, but instead of the Raiders coming down the court to cut into the lead, the Coyotes grabbed the offensive rebound and went right back to the line both times.
Calabasas’ 1-3-1 zone defense kept Sonora out of sync most of the night.
“That’s our identity right now and that’s the way we stop shooters,” Roggin said of Calabasas’ effort. “We knew they had three guys that literally make five threes a game, so that was our game plan with the zone to slow them down.”
The Raiders offense fell into the trap of swinging the ball back and forth around the perimeter with very minimal dribble-penetration into the paint. This allowed the Coyotes to keep a lot of pressure on the Raiders’ shooters, who had trouble getting open looks.
Roggin lead all scorers with 19 points, and shot 5-8 from downtown.
“We are not a big team, so there’s a lot of shooting,” Roggin said. “We know that’s what our biggest factor is, to keep hitting threes or we might get out of the game.”
The Raiders leading scorers were, Everett with 17, Carter with 16 and Marlow had 14.
Outside of Everett, who went 5-7 from beyond the arc, the rest of the team had an off night shooting. Everett will be the only starter returning next season.
Carter, Marlow, Murphy and Rutledge all plan to continue playing college ball in 2018.
Despite the early exit, Sonora finished the season with their best overall record in eight years at 25-4.