Sports

Lady Raiders top Lancers, take second

My Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal
SHS_Full_Hoops_4CWeb
The Sonora Lady Raiders knocked off the Sunny Hills Lady Lancers 43-38, Thursday night, to finish the regular season with an 8-2 record, and claim second place in the Freeway League.
Sonora’s only two losses in league play came against eventual league champion Troy.
The game started off slow, and neither team could buy a bucket. Sonora took a 3-0 lead into the end of the first quarter.
Action picked up in the second quarter, but both teams still were looking to get their offenses going. At the half, the Lady Raiders had a 17-8 lead, and Margo Campos lead all scorers with 6 first-half points. Despite their eight points, Sunny Hills did not make a field goal in the entire first half.
The Raider faithful played a big role in the second half, and really gave Sonora a home-court advantage.
“We love the fans,” said Coach Melissa Barajas. “I think they really helped carry us down the stretch when things were getting ugly.
Both teams came out in the second half much stronger, but Sunny Hills really narrowed down the lead. Justis Simpson had five of her 13 points in the quarter, and the deficit was trimmed to 27-26. Lauren Nakahara added seven points for the Lady Raiders in the quarter, and was the main reason that the game did not slip away.
There was a lot of back-and-forth basketball in the fourth, but Sonora never gave up the lead and held on down the stretch. The team was anchored by their strong defensive play.
Kylie Rodriguez had a countless number of steals and blocks in the game, and made her presence felt, despite only scoring 10 points.
It seemed like down the stretch, Sonora was the team that was able to make the big plays whenever they were needed. Avalon James had two huge three-point shots in the fourth, and Rodriguez uncharacteristically added another. Campos iced the game, making three out of four free throws in the closing seconds to tie her with Nakahara for the team lead with 12 points.
“We have grown a lot as a team,” said Campos. “We have been able to stay composed and we have matured.”
“Those were some crucial threes,” said James. “And Kylie nailed a big one for us too.”
“I think the girls, especially the seniors learned a lot from past games,” added Barajas. “They made huge plays down the stretch.”
Sonora will now gear up for the CIF playoffs, in which they are expected to have a fairly high seed.
“We should definitely be in the top four,” said Barajas, “But it doesn’t matter who you are playing. Every team brings it in the playoffs.”
“Going to playoffs, we’re stoked,” added Rodriguez, “We are so ready. There are going to be games just like tonight where they are going to be really close, but we are ready to take them on.”
“We’re going hard in the paint,” added James, “Ain’t nobody got time for losing.”

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