Tag Archive | "CIF"

Lady Highlanders look for redemption

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Lady Highlanders look for redemption

Posted on 10 March 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Unfinished business. That’s exactly what the Lady Highlanders softball team has collectively had on their minds since a crushing loss in the 2016 CIF semifinals derailed La Habra’s championship bid and snapped their school record 26-game winning streak.

Photo courtesy Paula Luna
Ready for the season: The Lady Highlander softball team looks to continue where they finished last year by recapturing the league title and competing for a CIF title. With a number of seniors and returning players, La Habra looks to improve on its 29-2 record from last year.

Despite ending on a sour note, the Lady Highlanders finished with a 29-2 record and have plenty to be optimistic about in 2017. The girls finished a perfect 10-0 in league and will be returning all but three starting position players.
First and foremost, they return a pair of aces in the circle. Seniors Hannah Johnson and Janelle Rodriguez might be the best pitching tandem in the county. Both girls are coming off back-to-back dominant seasons. According to head coach Steve Harrington, Rodriguez is back at full strength after suffering through a shoulder injury late last season.
La Habra will also have All-CIF outfielder Kira Cauley back to spark the offense again. Cauley is a legitimate five-tool talent. In addition, seniors Billie Jean Wells, Alyssa Palacios and Alyssa Rios are all returning starters and major contributors from last season.
La Habra will have some big shoes to fill at a couple key positions though.
Shortstop Frankie Mendoza and catcher Nikki Butler both moved on to play collegiately. Last year’s captains were heart of the order batters and equally valuable on the defensive end. That said, replacing their leadership could prove to be the most difficult hurdle this year.
Although the Lady Highlanders lost a few key starters from a year ago, they are still far and away the favorite to win another Freeway League title.

Photo courtesy Paula Luna Sparking the offense: All-CIF Outfielder Kira Cauley is one of the many seniors that look to help lead the Lady Highlanders this season. La Habra is looking to recapture the league title and run for CIF title.

Sonora (13-11, 6-4) finished in second, while Sunny Hills (16-10, 5-5) and Fullerton (18-12, 5-5) were right behind.
The Raiders are lead by senior captain Claudia Kim, who pitches and plays middle-infield for Sonora.
Harrington is excited about having a lot of returning players and believes a couple girls stepping up from the junior varsity team, as well as a couple freshman will make significant contributions right away.
“A beautiful surprise this year, has been Alexis Riley,” Harrington said.
Riley is a senior, but played junior varsity last season. Harrington admitted her talent has always been there, but praised her on her maturity during the offseason.
La Habra’s success during Harrington’s first season at the helm didn’t go unnoticed. The Lady Highlanders were bumped up to a Division 1 team this year for the first time in school history.
“I don’t care what division we’re in, I’ve been in that division,” Harrington said. “I’ve been down that road many times, heck last year’s team beat the Division 1 champion.”
Harrington added a gauntlet of tough out of league games to the schedule this year to better prepare the girls for the rigors of CIF. After getting his first full offseason with his team, Harrington believes they have what it takes to beat anybody regardless of division.
“This is a tight knit group,” he concluded, “and in my experience, the tighter the group the better the team.

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Highlanders outgunned by Nighthawks arsenal

Posted on 26 November 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

La Habra’s Cinderella CIF run came to end Friday night at home, as the Highlanders dropped a wild shootout to Murrieta Valley 62-43 in the semifinal matchup.

The Highlanders came out fired up for the CIF-SS semifinal game Friday. Photo by Matt Brown.

The normally stout Highlander defense was undone by the precision right arm of Nighthawk quarterback Hank Bachmeier and the explosive legs of running back Olita Palmer.

La Habra’s Giron and Casillias put a hit on Murrieta Valley’s Olita Palmer during Friday’s’ semifinals loss. Photo by Matt Brown.

Palmer, who began the game with just under 2000 yards on the season, carried the ball 37 times for 290 yards and reached the end zone four times. Palmer credited his offensive line and said he was just following them all night.

“This was just an emotional game, we went into the locker room like we didn’t want the season to end,” Palmer said. “We like going to practice, I like being surrounded by this group of guys and I’ll do anything for them.”

Bachmeier’s accuracy was on full display, as the sophomore completed 23-27 passes for 306 yards and five touchdowns. He also added 56 yards rushing.

“That’s a really good offense, they have everything,” said La Habra Head Coach Frank Mazzotta. “They have a good quarterback-check, running back-check, receivers-check and offensive line-check.”

Mazzotta added that there was so much talent on the field tonight that it felt like a college game, and the score reflected that.

The Highlanders actually got on the board first. On the opening drive, quarterback Zach Fogel quickly moved the offense down the field 61 yards on six plays before Madison Wheeler punched it in from three yards out.

La Habra Quarterback Zach Fogel looks for Henderson during the semifinal game. Fogel passed for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for two others. Photo by Matt Brown.

Murrieta Valley answered back right away. After each team had a pair of possessions the score was knotted at 14.

The Highlanders finally stumbled on their third possession, going three-and-out after being hit with their fourth false start penalty of the first quarter.

The Nighthawks took the lead on the next possession when Bachmeier connected with Marquis Spiker from 18 yards out for the duo’s second of three scores of the night.

The Highlanders listen to their coaches as they watch video during the CIF-SS semifinal loss to Murrieta Valley Friday. Photo by Matt Brown.

The Highlanders successfully slowed down and beat two high powered offenses, in Oaks Christian and Redlands East Valley, in the first two rounds of CIF, but had no answer for Murrieta Valley all night.

After forcing five interceptions and making key stops in critical situations the previous two weeks, the Highlanders failed to stop the Nighthawks from scoring on a single possession until they fumbled the ball with 3:09 left in the game. However, by then the game was already out of reach.

La Habra Linebacker Cameron Rivas tried to fire up the team before Friday’s game. Photo by Matt Brown.

“We took ourselves out of our element,” said linebacker and leading tackler Camron Rivas. “It’s not all about X’s and O’s, it’s about who wants it more and they wanted it more tonight.”

Rivas had double digit tackles in all three playoff games this season, picking up right where he left off in 2015, when Rivas was named the divisional Defensive Player of the Year in CIF Southern Section.

“I would never point the finger at our defense at all,” Fogel said. “They are playing the best ball they have played in a long time, I think our

La Habra’s Zach Fogel and Madison Wheeler celebrate in the end zone after a score Friday night. Photo by Matt Brown.

defense has some great leaders and is full of fighters, but Murrieta just had more playmakers tonight.”

La Habra’s offensive unit was impressive as well, scoring on six of the first eight possessions.

Fogel threw for 220 yards with two touchdowns and added 92 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, including a 44-yard keeper that he took into the end zone untouched that tied the game at 21 early in the second quarter.

Prince Ross caught three passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Ross also broke free for an 80 yard touchdown run a few minutes before halftime to bring the Highlanders within a score. But the Nighthawks wound up adding another score with just :18 left in the second quarter to make it 42-28 at the half. La Habra kept pace, but couldn’t cut it below two scores the rest of the way.

Wheeler ran the ball effectively for the third consecutive week, but because La Habra was playing from behind the entire second half, Mazzotta

La Habra’s hard-fought season comes to an end with a 62-43 loss to Murrieta Valley in the CIF-SS semifinal game Friday. Photo by Matt Brown.

couldn’t stick with the running game as much as he would have liked to. Wheeler collected 91 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries, and added 27 yards receiving.

“I’m so proud of how much we improved this year,” Mazzotta said. “This team was so much fun, they came to practice everyday and worked their asses off, they were really a lot of fun to be around.”

The Highlanders end the season at 8-5, one game shy of a rematch with San Clemente for the chance at back-to-back CIF titles, so they were understandably downtrodden afterwards. However coming in to the playoffs as the No. 14 seed, the 2016 Highlander football team far-exceeded expectations in the CIF tournament.

“It’s a bitter-sweet moment right now, I’m blessed that I had an opportunity to do this for four years and to do it at the level I did it at,” Rivas said afterwards reflecting on his final game. “I just want thank my coaches, thank my teammates and thank God most importantly, I’m truly grateful and truly blessed, I can’t even say how much I love this place.”

“The hardest thing about this is seeing my guys and knowing how hard we fought, but I couldn’t be more proud of my guys,” Fogel added. “I think we really grew as a brotherhood this year.”

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Highlanders tame Wildcats to advance to semifinal game

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Highlanders tame Wildcats to advance to semifinal game

Posted on 19 November 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Highlighted by a stifling first half and a pair of late interceptions, the La Habra defense

La Habra's Madison Wheeler brushes off a Wildcat defender during the Higlanders' 31-21 victory at home Friday.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal                   La Habra’s Madison Wheeler brushes off a Wildcat defender during the Higlanders’ 31-21 victory at home Friday.

frustrated another prolific offense Friday night, defeating Redlands East Valley 31-21 to advance to the CIF semifinals.

La Habra took the lead on the opening drive and never relinquished it, thanks to a suffocating defense that forced REV to a three-and-out on all-but two drives in the first half.

The Highlanders took a commanding 24-7 lead into the break, after limiting the Wildcats to just 15 yards on the ground and quarterback Armando Herrera to just 87 yards and one touchdown through the air in the first half.

“We have the best defensive coordinators in the nation, I really believe that,” said linebacker Camron Rivas, the Highlanders leading tackler. “Every week he puts together a great gameplan.”

Just six plays into the game, quarterback Zach Fogel tossed a zero screen to Pervis Henderson, who made one man miss and blazed down the sideline for a 69-yard score.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal          La Habra Quarterback Zach Fogel throws downfield to a receiver.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal                                                  La Habra Quarterback Zach Fogel throws downfield to a receiver.

The next possession saw Fogel toss another zero screen for a big gain. This time it was Derrick Corso taking one 35 yards to set up his eventual score from 11 yards out.

Scoring on the first two drives of the game was all attributed to my coaching, and their ability to come out with a plan that works,” Fogel said. “That’s what our coaches are so good at, they know exactly what to do at what time.”

Fogel to executed an intelligent game plan with quick passes and a lot of read option plays to neutralize two of the best pass rushers in the country, Jaelan Phillips and Aaron House.

“We have a motto, it’s not about who you are playing, it’s about who you are,” Fogel said.

Phillips and House entered the game with a combined 34 sacks. House notched the only sack for the duo all night, but the play was negated by a facemask penalty.

Head coach Frank Mazzotta said afterward that he knew coming into the season that Fogel was a tough kid with a great work ethic, but he has seen his quarterback’s decision making and intelligence on the field steadily improve throughout the season.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal       La Habra sophomore cornerback Kalani Washington launches as Wildcat defender in La Habra's 31-21 win Friday.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal        La Habra sophomore cornerback Kalani Washington launches as Wildcat defender in La Habra’s 31-21 win Friday.

The Highlander defense put the game away for good after forcing turnovers on three consecutive series.

“La Habra always has a good defense, but this team is doing something special,” Fogel said.

Alan Giron sealed the victory with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter.

Marcus Carrasco blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt and for good measure, Isaiah Alcocer picked off Herrera in the back of the end zone on the Wildcats next two possessions.

Fogel finished the game with 204 yards(190 coming in the first half), and two touchdowns.

Madison Wheeler rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown, while the entire Wildcat team only gained 46 yards on the ground.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal.  La Habra runningback Madison Wheeler pushes off Wildcat defender in La Habra's 31-21 victory over Redlands East Vallet Firday.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal.                  La Habra runningback Madison Wheeler pushes off Wildcat defender in La Habra’s 31-21 victory over Redlands East Valley Firday.

Following the tough loss to Buena Park, Mazzotta pointed out how the team would learn from their defeat and get better. Since then, the Highlanders have played by far their best football of the season.

“A loss doesn’t define us,” Mazzotta added. “One thing the kids do is show up everyday, they work hard and try to get better every day.”

La Habra (8-4) will host the semifinal matchup against Murrieta Valley next Friday at 7 p.m. No. 2 Murrieta Valley (10-2) is coming off 63-34 blowout over St. Bonaventure. No. 14 La Habra is the lowest seed to make the semifinal round in all of CIF.

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Highlanders battle, check Lions off the list

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Highlanders battle, check Lions off the list

Posted on 12 November 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Photo by Paul Luna

Photo by Paul Luna — La Habra’s Madison Wheeler pushes through a Lions defender as the Highlanders beat Oaks Christian in CIF playoffs Friday night on the road. Wheeler had 233 yards on 37 carries.

The La Habra football team entered the opening round of CIF in an unfamiliar position, as an underdog on the road, but that didn’t stop the Highlanders from doing what they have done for 18 years under Frank Mazzotta, win CIF playoff games.


The Highlanders saved their best showing of the season for when in counted, upsetting No. 3 Oaks Christian 35-28 at Westlake Village Friday night.

In a game that had been blow-for-blow from the onset La Habra found itself on the road, down a score with under four minutes to go.

Trailing 28-21 and facing a 4th-and-7, quarterback Zach Fogel scrambled out of the pocket and made an Aaron Rogers-like jump throw across his body, connecting with Derrick Corso who cut all the way back across the field for a 17-yard score to tie the game with 3:18 to play.

Alex Alcocer continued turning the tide in La Habra’s favor when he picked off Matt Corral on the following possession, setting up the game winning score.

Photo by Paul Luna

Photo by Paul Luna — La Habra Quarterback Zach Fogel looks for an open receiver. The Highlanders beat Oaks Christian on the road Friday in the first round of CIF playoffs.

Fogel took the first snap, read the triple-option perfectly and found Prince Ross wide open in the back of the end zone from 21 yards out to give La Habra the lead with a couple minutes left.

Despite the one score lead, there was still plenty of time left for a Corral led passing attack that had already burned the Highlanders on big plays all game long.

Enter Mr. Corso. Already owning a pair of touchdown catches on offense, the senior shifted his playmaking skills to the defensive side for his third act. On the Lions ensuing drive, Corso picked off Corral at midfield with :45 left to seal the hardfought victory for the Highlanders some 67 miles away from home.

The Highlanders picked off the Corral three times Friday night, which is newsworthy considering the USC commit had only thrown three all season coming into the game. Isaac Soto Morales’ interception just before halftime set up the Highlanders third score.

Madison Wheeler carried the Highlander offense on his back to the tune of 160 yards and a touchdown in the first half. The Lions knew Wheeler was going to get the ball, but just couldn’t stop the two-way workhorse.

Photo by Paul Launa

Photo by Paul Launa — Senior Receiver Prince Ross pulls down a Zach Fogel pass in the end zone for the Highlanders’ go-ahead score against Oaks Christian Friday in Westlake Village.

Wheeler’s dominance running the ball early allowed Fogel to pick the Lions apart in critical situations the rest of the way. He finished with a whopping 233 yards on 37 carries.

Fogel finished with four touchdowns on the night (3 pass, 1 rush), and seemed to make the right decisions all night long.

For the past three weeks, Mazzotta has talked about his quarterback’s steady improvement, pointing out Fogel’s 4.8 GPA and toughness.

Even when the junior quarterback made a mistake, it helped the Highlanders. Fogel’s lone interception came on a 4th-and-long play with nobody open downfield, so it basically amounted to a 20-yard punt instead of a sack or incomplete pass.

Prince Ross caught the go-ahead touchdown pass and had 136 total yards.

La Habra (7-4) will travel about the same distance, but in the opposite direction to play Redlands East Valley (9-2), next Friday at 7:30 p.m. Redlands is coming off a 41-30 opening round win over Great Oak.

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Raider grapplers pillage Freeway League Finals

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Raider grapplers pillage Freeway League Finals

Posted on 13 February 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The Sonora wrestling team hit the mats with high expectations and delivered champions in seven different weight classes at the Freeway League tournament Friday night, but it was a firstyear wrestler that stole the show.Lions Pasta Fest 2016

Sonora 285-pound champion Jorge Bernabe was named MVP of the heavier weights after notching his second fall in the title match against Juan Lopez of Troy. Sonora Head Coach David Carrizosa was especially impressed with Bernabe, a former football player who never wrestled prior to this, his senior, year.

“I had been trying to get him out for four years to wrestle,” Carrizosa said. “He finally came out, but it’s funny because he had this promise, he said, ‘coach I’ll come out if you make me league champion,’ and I said ‘sure.’”

Sonora's Chucky Chavez puts Buena Park's Josh Vargas in an awkward position on his way to win the 152-pound title.

Sonora’s Chucky Chavez puts Buena Park’s Josh Vargas in an awkward position on his way to win the 152-pound title.

Carrizosa made good on his promise, now he feels that Bernabe has a good chance at CIF and possibly further. He is hoping that Bernabe’s success will, “trigger more football players to come out for wrestling.”

“He barely started wrestling in January,” Carrizosa said. “He was late to the party, but his only losses were to top ranked guys in the state and he held his own with them.”

The Raiders hope to have at least one wrestler enter the CIF tournament as a No. 1 seed next week at Citrus Hill High School in Moreno Valley. Josh Kawaguchi won the 160-pound weight class, marking his second Freeway League title.

“Josh should be seeded first, he’s a returning CIF Champion,” Carrizosa said. “He is up three weight classes at 160, but based on the criteria he should be first–he was and State qualifier [in 2015].”

Carrizosa pointed out that Bernabe could earn a top seed in the CIF Tournament as well. He said that his record is (15-2) this season, adding that, “his only losses came against top-ranked guys in the state.”

 Sonora's Nate Avila takes control over Troy's Jacob Alderson in the 138-pound weight class.

Sonora’s Nate Avila takes control over Troy’s Jacob Alderson in the 138-pound weight class.

Sonora’s Isaiah Perez (113), Hiwad Stanekzai (120), Nate Avila (138), Jacob Pelayo (145) and Chucky Chavez (152) were all crowned Freeway League Champions as well.

In addition to the seven league champs, the Raiders also had two additional league placers, giving the team a total of nine CIF qualifiers, the same number they had last year. Carlos Castilla (195) and Sebastian Perez (220) both finished third.

La Habra High School qualified four wrestlers for the tournament next week. La Habra’s Edward Medina (132)  took third after beating Solomon Than of Sonora. Brandon Murry (145) took third after beating Luke Boyd of Buena Park. Carlos Castilla (195) pulled off a second-period fall

La Habra's Wayne Nicholson Worksto turn Sonora's Hiwad Stanekzai in the 120-pount championship match.

La Habra’s Wayne Nicholson Worksto turn Sonora’s Hiwad Stanekzai in the 120-pount championship match.

against Eddie Estrada to take third and qualify for the CIF tournament.  Wayne Nicholson (120), lead the Highlanders with his second-place finish in the tournament.

Adrian Diaz (132) of Troy High School was named MVP of the lighter weights.

Freeway League qualifiers have a long bus ride in their future. The CIF tournament will be next Friday at Citrus Hill High School, located 45 miles away in Perris.

Click here for more photos from the tournament.

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WEB_LHJ Sonora_SH base_0249

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Raiders beat Knights, move to CIF Quarterfinals

Posted on 26 May 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Sonora Raiders advance to the Southern Section Quarterfinals with a 5-2 victory against Katella.

The Raiders battled back, scoring five unanswered runs to shut down the Knights.WEB_LHJ Sonora_SH base_0173

Austin Weddle toed the rubber for the Raiders who worked in and out of jams for six innings.

“He seems to be fighting himself all the time, he’s cutting his pitches off short,” Tellers said.

Weddle started the game reliant on his fastball, but gained command of his curveball and changeup.

“He just kept battling through it,” Tellers said.

Weddle however did not have much help behind him as the Raiders defense showed one of their weaker performances.

With runners on first and second base and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Raiders got some timely defense off the bench.

Alex Penaloza hit a deep fly ball to left field. Jacob Tennyson trailed the high fly ball into the corner and eventually caught it before it got lost in the corner.

Tennyson is regarded as the fastest player in the Sonora baseball program with a 6.3 second 60 yard dash.

“He’s usually the guy out there in the late innings, and he had the smarts to get that one back in the infield,” Tellers said.

Katella was on the run, so when Tennyson hauled it in, both runners had a long run to get back to their bases, allowing Tennyson to relay a ball into the infield to double off Matt Morello from first.

“I thought for sure it was going to be a 5-4 game with a runner on third,” Tellers said expecting the play to end as a triple.WEB_LHJ Sonora_SH base_0583

The throw ended the game securing a 5-2 victory.

Katella scored their first run in the second inning.

With two on and no outs, Eduardo Ureno dropped a bunt down in front of Eli Villalobos. Villalobos tried to throw the runner out at second, but his throw sailed into center field scoring Penaloza. With runners on the corners Katella hit a grounder to Justin Mellano. Mellano made a strong throw to home to tie Gabriel Gamboa up between the basepath in a pickle. Weddle struck the next batter out before escaping the jam one batter later.

Wilem Drozdowski reached on an infield single in the third to set the table for the Raiders. JP Sarro followed with another single to put runners on first and second. Eli Villalobos fouled off a pitch in front of the Raiders dugout, and Drozdowski tagged up after Roberto Jaime bobbled the catch in front of the fence. Dylan Villalobos singled up the middle to tie the game, bringing in Drozdowski.

The Raiders added to their run total in the fourth with a leadoff single by Jake Rosander. Mellano then sacrificed him over to second.

Gabe Armstrong singled putting runners on the corners and Jason Clayton singled down the line to bring in Rosander for a 2-1 lead.

In the sixth, the Raiders scored their third run on back to back doubles from Mellano and Armstrong. Armstrong would try to score on a single to left, but was thrown out at the plate. Armstrong appeared to injure his hamstring on the play.

In the seventh inning, Katella’s pitching trouble led to two runs for the Raiders.WEB_LHJ Sonora_SH base_0249

“It’s about making plays,” Tellers said, “Defense will usually cost you games, I think we got a couple from them because of mistakes on defense, and I know for sure we threw a few away.”

Eli Villalobos reached on an infield single to third base. He took second on a wild pitch and went to third on Dylan’s single to center. Another wild pitch scored Eli and put Dylan at second.

Chandler Koontz reached on a walk, then swiped second on a wild pitch. Dylan Villalobos scored on another wild pitch to give the Raiders a 5-1 lead.

The Knights season ended after they scored their second run off of Sarro who came in to pitch.

Morello singled to left to drive in the run, but would be out retreating on Penaloza’s fly ball to left.

With the Raiders road victory, they will host Serrano who knocked out Victor Valley in a 5-2 victory. That game will be played on Friday afternoon.

“It’s been a fight, and hopefully we can continue fighting,” Tellers said.

The Raiders carry 11 Seniors, and will look to the to carry the load as the season continues.

“We know that everyone’s in this together, but it’s their deal. They have no tomorrow,” Tellers said.

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Raiders take CIF basketball title

Posted on 11 March 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Sonora Raiders endured a slow first quarter to defeat Gahr High School and win the CIF 3AA Southern Section title, winning 66-54.LHJ Sonora CIF Finals 2015__2229_
The Raiders trailed by as many as nine points, but were propelled by a 16-0 run to surge past the Gladiators and secure the title.
Gahr scored the first six points of the fourth quarter, but the Raiders took over from there.
Down 51-44 with 6:45 left to play, the Raiders came out of the huddle with their sights set on victory, rather than a repeat of last years losing performance.
“We were about five minutes away from finishing it off,” Gahr High School head coach Ricky Roper said.
“We know exactly how Gahr feels, we’ve been through it. We all decided you know we’re not going to feel like this again,” Ben Rico said
Rico finished the game with 12 points and 14 rebounds and played the entire game.
Buckets by Rico and Ashaad Womack brought the Raiders within striking distance before Christian Rhodes tied the game at 51 with a three.
“I had no idea it was tied,” Rhodes said as he explained how difficult it was to see the score above their heads. “I looked up, I was like I just tied the game, we’re gonna win this right now. At that point I knew we were gonna get it.”LHJ Sonora CIF Finals 2015__0268_
Tied at 51 the Raiders steady defense allowed them to stretch their lead while keeping Gahr at bay. With a commanding lead and only a minute to go Josh Rodriguez and Rhodes sealed the game at the free throw line.
Rodriguez was the leading scorer with 16 points, eight coming in the fourth quarter.
“Some time in almost every game is going to be Josh’s time. He gets everybody involved, because we know that at any time in the game, he can do just about whatever he wants, he’s a special player,” Murphy said.
The game started with the two teams taking different approaches. The Gladiators started out red hot from behind the arc, knocking down 7-15 in the first half.
“That’s their game, they shoot about 40 threes a game, but at one point they hit 7 of 10,” Murphy said.
Meanwhile, Sonora committed to trading threes for twos.
The Raiders held a distinct size advantage, which allowed Steven Murphy to capitalize on both ends with 13 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks with no fouls.
“We couldn’t stay in front of those guards all the time and we were forcing them into Steven, and if he didn’t block the shot I think he altered almost every one of those shots,” Murphy said about his center.
Murphy was the Raiders’ most reliable target early in the game making all four of his shots. He finished the game shooting 6-8
“We can’t win a CIF championship without him, we got to have him in the middle, he anchors our defense and as you saw today, he was definitely the anchor of our team,” Murphy said.LHJ Sonora CIF Finals 2015__0830_
Womack bounced back from two early fouls to score eight of his 10 points in the third quarter.
“I had two early ones and I knew I had to help my team out more, so when I came out in the third, I just had to do my job, finish everything and that’s what I did,” Womack said.
“That was our game plan, give them the ball and let them finish,” Rhodes said.
The hot shooting Gladiators cooled off quickly and never seemed to snap back into form shooting 7-33 in the second half.
As the Raiders steady play continued they were able to gradually chip away. Kevin Marlow played all of the second quarter and added 3 threes in the second and third quarters.
Marlow came into the gym the week before in preparation for the game, which helped him feel comfortable shooting with this type of pressure.
“When you put a sophomore in, you never know what you’re gonna get,” Murphy said, “I was in the gym from 8:30 to 10 with him and he shot 2,500 shots. There’s a reason kids make those shots, not just a coincidence.
The Gladiators used a press the entire game, which is something the Raiders were unfamiliar to.
“We prepared for it all week and we were ready for their pressure and it showed in the outcome,” Rhodes said.
The turnovers were high, but between Rhodes and Rodriguez they were able to adjust to the pressure and move the ball effectively.
Sonora played a tough schedule in the preseason to pave the way for another run at a title, with 4 of 5 starters returning from last year’s team.
Experience from last year definitely came to the rescue, as the Raiders maintained a steady focus on inside scoring, and were able to persevere through the Gladiators hot shooting.
Rhodes especially benefitted from the experience, pushing through a rough beginning of the game.
“Junior year, if I’m having a bad game, it could take me out for the rest of the game and I’d be done, being a senior, being more confident I’m able to stick in there when I’m turning the ball over or something, I’ll come back and I’m ready for the next play,” Rhodes said.
The Raiders will keep this championship, but both teams will continue to play. Sonora plays Valhalla High School on Wednesday May 11 and Gahr will play El Cajon in CIF regional playoffs.

For a gallery of photos from the game, go to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lahabrajournal/sets/72157648982044893/

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Lady Highlanders beat Raiders, advance to CIF

Posted on 14 February 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

In a back and forth battle between the Lady Raiders and Lady Highlanders, it was the Highlanders girls’ soccer team who came out victorious, winning 3-2.Print_LHJ LHHS vs BHHS Gsoc_0934_

Throughout the game both teams carried momentum, but the Highlanders offensive firepower became too much for the Raider defense.

“We don’t win many 1-0’s, it’s often like this,” head coach Matt Sanger said.

“Welcome to reality, we have a good team, but you know what, today the girls didn’t play, defense they weren’t flawless, they weren’t covering, they were slow, so they weren’t ready, mentally they weren’t ready,” head coach Jorge Montalvo said.

The Raiders evened the score at two when Tatsiana Loscutoff capitalized on a penalty kick.

The Highlanders quickly countered, scoring on a header from Jocelyn Mosqueda.

With time working against the Raiders, they created one final chance.

Highlander goalkeeper Katelyn Phinney, was there to salvage the victory for her Highlanders and secure the La Habra cleat for another year.

The Raiders got on the board first, with a goal from Ashley Bordy.

With Bordy dribbling towards the Highlander goal, she chipped a shot high over Phinney’s head and into the goal.

Sonora scoring early, helped us wake up, and realize we have a game to play, and I’m proud of them, they worked hard,” Sanger said.

While the Raiders have been successful in multiple close games this season playing defensive, Raiders plan backfired as Darriell Franklin nearly took on the defense on her own.LHJ LHHS vs BHHS Gsoc_0699_

“They just stayed watching, we didn’t do what we were supposed to do, and that’s how they capitalized. We can score goal, but if we keep giving mistakes away, it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to matter,” Montalvo said.

She was taking players on, she does that a lot, but when it’s on, she’s deadly,” Sanger said, “it wasn’t just beating one player, she’d beat three, four, five players.”

Franklin swiftly countered with an equalizer before halftime, and followed that with her second in the 47th minute.

With momentum fully at the hands of the Highlanders, Franklin nearly dished off an assist to Chloe Cooksey, however the goal was waived off for offsides with Sara Weiland impeding the keeper.

It could have been four, five, six goals just on chances she created,” Sanger said.

The offsides call ended up being the shift in momentum, with the Raiders getting their second goal minutes after the offsides call.

The resilience of the Highlanders however brought them back as they secured a berth into CIF with the third spot in Freeway League.

“I was proud of them to come back, and then even after we got the pk scored against us, we were able to come back and get the win and not let it go to overtimeLHJ LHHS vs BHHS Gsoc_0518_

There were a few storylines heading into the game. The ultimate prize for the two teams was third place, with the teams separated by only a half game.The two teams were in pursuit of city supremacy and this was the second matchup between two sisters, in Sonora forward Sarah and La Habra keeper Katelyn Phinney.

The Highlanders advance on to CIF where they will travel to Mira Costa Thursday February 19.

“I look forward to it, I feel like we play better with better competition, so I’m excited for it,” Franklin said.

“We need to be on our toes, physically. Last year and the goal that was scored today, I wasn’t on my toes. All those goals, I was flat footed, that’s what I want to change for CIF,” Phinney said.

The Highlanders have been able to experiment with moving Weiland from the back line to the forward position. They intend to use her as a forward which will put the pressure on their young defensive line.

“A lot of teams are going to overlook us, because our record isn’t the best, but we are dangerous,” Sanger said, “even though we haven’t beaten the teams that we wanted too, we can play with them.”

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Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014

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Brea proves too much for Lady Heralds

Posted on 15 November 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

Coming off a dominate win against Calvary Chapel, the Whittier Christian Heralds looked outmatched against the Brea Olinda Lady Wildcats.Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014

The Wildcats got off to a quick start and held off the Heralds to win three straight and sweep their way through the second round, 15-25, 21-25, 24-26.

The Heralds played their best game with their backs against the wall in game three, and pushed Brea past 25 points, but the Wildcats were too strong for the Heralds.

Early on you could see the nerves the Heralds were dealing with.

The Heralds had 19 errors compared to only 9 by the Wildcats.

By the time the Heralds reached the third game, they were playing better volleyball and looked composed.

“Third game, I thought we found it, back and forth battle, we’ve been in that situation so many times this year, its just a matter if we could just get that win, I think we could have at least challenged them again in the forth and fifth games

The Wildcats found a lot of success defensively up the middle, and generated kills with ease from their outside hitters.

“We had a gameplan going in to stop Abby Broadstreet, and I thought we did a pretty good job, we had some great digs on her. She’s gonna get her kills. What I don’t think we did a good enough job with was just playing up front against their middle,” Morrison said.

Brea’s striking power allowed them to change things up tapping balls just over the net as the Heralds were backpedaling.

The Heralds responded from a lackluster first game with a strong start to the second game.Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014

Tied 8-8 the Wildcats began to break away. They eventually stretched their lead to 11-18 before the Heralds again began to chip away.

An ace from Mandy Sides brought the Heralds within three points, but Sides’ next serve went into the net.

The Heralds responded winning the sideout, but were too far away to come all the way back. the Wildcats held on to win game two 21-25.

The Heralds stayed on pace with the Wildcats in game one staying within four points through most of the set.

With the Wildcats up 20-15, they turned up their intensity and won five straight points to finish the set 25-15.

“I thought the first game got away from us because the fact we were too pumped up,” Morrison said.

The Heralds had only three seniors left from a team who competed in the Division II state tournament last year.

“One of the best memories of my life, I was so blessed to be a captain this year and leading these girls, its the best part if the whole season,” Jeanne Reinis said about leading this team this year.

Though they had some experience, it was the youth that shined through in this game.Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014

“They’ll remember this next year, they will, and that’s what you love about it, because we got another shot, we always got another shot,” Morrison said.

With the loss, Whittier Christian is eliminated for CIF and Brea will continue on to play North High School from Torrance.

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Palm Springs knocks Lady Highlanders out of playoffs

Posted on 15 November 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Sarah Fenton
La Habra Journal


La Habra’s breakthrough season came to an end as they fell to Palm Springs, 3-0, in the second round of CIF playoffs at home Thursday night.

Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014

After a close first set, the Indians took control and dominated the last two sets, 26-4, 25-10, 25-14, to secure the win.


“We came in with big hearts wanting to play big and we came in wanting to win the game, but we were outsized,” said La Habra head coach Adrianne Spear. “They have a number of kids that can hit the ball.”


Palm Springs went undefeated in the Desert Valley league and defeated Walnut, 3-0, in the first round of playoffs.


The Highlanders (22-9) swept Oak Hills in the first round of playoffs, but Palm Springs’ hitters kept La Habra from advancing to the third round.


“The second round is when you start seeing the big teams and it is what it is,” Spear said. “We played hard. We broke down a lot, a lot more than I expected, and we just couldn’t recover tonight.”


The score in the first set was kept close as both teams took turns adding points to the board.Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014


Down by one, Palm Springs (23-5) went on a 3-0 run at the end of the first set to give them the lead, 23-21.


The Highlanders responded with their own 3-0 run to regain the lead, 24-23, but the Indians regained control to close out the set, 26-24.


The close first set woke up the Indians who quickly took the lead in the second set with a 4-0 run.


Leading 8-4, Palm Springs went on a 12-0 run to advance their score to 20-4.


The Highlanders tried to come back but couldn’t make up the 16-point deficit before falling to the Indians, 25-10.


La Habra came out fighting in the third set and was first to put points on the board.


The Highlanders took an early 4-3 lead over the Indians, but faced a setback after Palm Springs took the lead with a 7-0 run.


La Habra fought to regain the lead, but the Indians kept control of the score to finish the set 25-14.Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014


“They played hard and they never gave up,” Spear said. “I’m proud of them for making it to the second round and for putting up a good fight. I can’t ask for anything more from these kids.”


The Highlanders finished their breakthrough season with an 8-2 record in the Freeway league, their best since 2007.


“I think they played outstanding throughout the whole season and I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids,” Spear said. “They were a joy to coach this year and I’m proud of them.”

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