Tag Archive | "Josh Rodriguez"

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Early push not enough as Raiders fall to St. John Bosco in South Regional quarterfinals

Posted on 15 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

Josh Rodriguez scored a game-high 28 points, but the Raiders fell to No. 1 St. John Bosco 94-67 in the CIF State Southern Regional quarterfinals, Saturday night at St. John Bosco High.

Josh Rodriguez scored a game-high 28 points, but the Raiders fell to No. 1 St. John Bosco 94-67 in the CIF State Southern Regional quarterfinals, Saturday night at St. John Bosco High.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Early in the second quarter of its quarterfinal matchup in the CIF State South Regional playoffs, the Sonora basketball team had executed its way to a nine-point lead over No. 1 St. John Bosco thanks to a quick start by its two leading scorers, which forced the Braves to take a timeout.

Unfortunately, the Braves came storming back with a 21-4 run to close out the half and shooting guard Jesus Zesati torched Sonora with 17 points in the third quarter as St. John Bosco ended the Raiders’ season with a 94-67 win, Saturday night at St. John Bosco High.

Zesati’s efforts helped the Braves turn an eight-point halftime lead into a 22-point advantage at the end of the third quarter and St. John Bosco cruised to the quarterfinal win in from there.

“Our game plan was not to guard [Zesati], we were going to take Steven [Murphy] and play him in the middle because we figured they would post up on our little guards, which they did,” said Mike Murphy, Sonora head coach. “Then [Zesati] goes off and hits five 3-pointers on us and that was the difference. When he hit those shots, it changed us up and we didn’t react well to it. That’s a hard team to guard.”

However, early in the contest, it was Sonora that put the pressure on, maintaining a slim lead after the first quarter and building upon it with long-range shooting to start the second quarter.

Guards Josh Rodriguez and Ben Rico combined for six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes and accounted for 28 of Sonora’s 30 points before Braves’ coach Derrick Taylor called timeout with 5:55 remaining in the first half.

“We had nothing to lose coming into this game, we thought we could beat them,” Rico said. “We came into this game with a lot of confidence and we played hard, it just wasn’t enough. They’re a great team, we gave it all we had, it just didn’t go our way tonight.”

The timeout reenergized St. John Bosco (20-11), which matched Rodriguez and Rico’s long distance shots with seven 3-pointers of its own in the second quarter alone.

Guard Tyler Dorsey and forward Vance Jackson helped the Braves pull even before Zesati drained two 3-pointers late in the quarter to give St. John Bosco a 42-34 lead at the break.

“We just wanted to slow them down, not take wild shots and we wanted to take advantage of our size and quickness,” Taylor said. “We just wanted to slow things down. We knew we could score, but we didn’t give ourselves a chance by jacking up long shots. In the second half, we played really well.”

Ben Rico (shown against Monache) scored 14 of his 22 points in the first half, but Sonora fell to St. John Bosco 94-67, Saturday night at St. John Bosco High.

Ben Rico (shown against Monache) scored 14 of his 22 points in the first half, but Sonora fell to St. John Bosco 94-67, Saturday night at St. John Bosco High.

Senior forward Daniel Hamilton also had an efficient first half for the Braves, leading the team with 15 points. He and Zesati led the team with 23 points each.

Hamilton also came down with a game-high 10 rebounds.

Focusing on Hamilton, Dorsey and Jackson in the third quarter, the Raiders left Zesati alone and the junior forward made them pay.

“Our game plan was to take away their best players, like Dorsey and Hamilton, but the other guys stepped up big time,” said Adam Marlow, senior leader.

Zesati hit three 3-pointers and added a pair of three-point plays when he was fouled on two layups.

The Raiders could not match the performance as shots began to miss their mark.

“Early on, we played like we could play, we were driving, kicking and guys were hitting their shots,” Murphy said. “As the game progressed, we got away from that, we took some bad shots and then we just couldn’t stop them.”

Rodriguez added nine of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, but the St. John Bosco lead was insurmountable and the Braves earned a spot in the Division 2 South Regional semifinals.

“I thought there were times where Josh was the best player on the floor,” Murphy said. “He was the guy out there scoring, stealing and making plays. When he has a smile on his face, you know he’s playing well.”

Rico finished with 22 points, while Adam Marlow contributed with nine assists.

Sonora finishes the season with a 29-5 record and the program reached the CIF-SS Finals and the CIF State Championships for the first time in over 30 years.

“It’s pretty great and I’m really proud of this team, I can always look back and say that this was my senior year that we accomplished this,” Marlow said. “I’m pretty proud as a senior and it’s something I’ll never forget.”

The Raiders will lose six seniors to graduation after this season, most notably Marlow and Roy Saucedo, but will return three every day starters and one spot starter for next season.

In addition, Murphy has a fifth player in Jason McClung who earned plenty of experience this season and also shared plenty of excitement over the underclassmen coming in next season.

“They have a different style of athlete than we do and that’s going to make it tough for anyone who makes it this far,” Murphy said of St. John Bosco. “We’re going to get better, we have some size next year and we have a really good group coming up from the JV team, which was a 10-0 team. It’s exciting.”

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Raiders shoot their way past Monache in first round of South regionals

Posted on 12 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora's Josh Rodriguez scores a fastbreak basket in the third quarter, while a Monache defender closes in during Sonora's 72-54 win, Wednesday night at Sonora High.

Sonora’s Josh Rodriguez scores a fastbreak basket in the third quarter, while a Monache defender closes in during Sonora’s 72-54 win, Wednesday night at Sonora High. Photos by Jay Seidel, La Habra Journal

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

After struggling to hit shots late in a CIF Division 2A Championship game loss, the Sonora boys’ basketball team redeemed itself with eight first-half 3-pointers, which led to a 72-54 win over Monache High of Porterville in the first round of the Division 2 State playoffs, Wednesday night at Sonora High.

The Raiders took control in the second quarter behind Ben Rico, who hit four of his six 3-pointers and scored 16 of his game-high 27 points in the quarter.

“It all started right after the game on Saturday, we feel that we should not have lost that game,” Rico said. “We came out strong and ready to play, everything was solid tonight. We played great as a team.”

Defensively, Sonora (29-4) pressed the outside, forcing Monache off the 3-point line and forcing them to try to make a run inside.

However, the Marauders (20-8) struggled in getting the ball inside as guards Josh Rodriguez and Christian Rhodes picked the ball away around the perimeter.

“I think Christian Rhodes has been the guy with his defense,” said Mike Murphy, Sonora head coach. “Adam Marlow is always a great defender, but in our last two games, Christian has changed the game with his defense. He did a great job tonight.”

Sonora's Jason McClung attempts a layup while Moache's Ryan Holve defends during the second half of Sonora's 72-54 win, Wednesday night at home.

Sonora’s Jason McClung attempts a layup while Moache’s Ryan Holve defends during the second half of Sonora’s 72-54 win, Wednesday night at home.

On the other end, Sonora’s long-distance shooting gave it separation in the first half as Sonora held a 43-22 advantage at the break.

Rodriguez hit two triples in the first quarter, while Rico scored five points to lead the Raiders to a seven-point cushion after the first quarter.

But at one point, Rico hit four consecutive 3-pointers to push the advantage to double digits.

“We have the most confidence in the world here at home,” Rico said. “That played an advantage tonight.”

With a 21-point advantage, Sonora focused on its defense in the second half. Rhodes’ quick hands led to six Monache turnovers in the third quarter and Rodriguez benefitted on the other end with a pair of fastbreak layups.

“We saw that they played a lot like Sunny Hills, which worked for us because we also like to play fast,” Rodriguez said. “In practice we have great communication, when we get a turnover, I can see the pass is going to be long, but we make eye contact and find each other.”

Midway through the fourth quarter, Murphy began substituting in his bench.

With two minutes remaining and a 70-45 lead, Murphy took out his remaining starters.

Sonora's Charlie Yoshitake works with the basketball against Monache's Steven Ringgold in the fourth quarter of Sonora's 72-54 win, Wednesday night at home.

Sonora’s Charlie Yoshitake works with the basketball against Monache’s Steven Ringgold in the fourth quarter of Sonora’s 72-54 win, Wednesday night at home.

Steven Murphy added nine points and eight rebounds, while Austin Dunn scored five points in the fourth quarter.

Guard Adam Marlow finished with six assists.

For Monache, Sal Arredondo led the way with nine points and seven rebounds, while Miguel Mejia also scored nine points. Two others scored eight points for the Marauders.

For the Raiders, it was the program’s first game in a State Championship bracket in over 30 years.

Sonora, the No. 8 seed in the South Regional bracket, will travel to Bellflower to take on No. 1 St. John Bosco in the South Regional quarterfinals, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“We just want to compete,” Rodriguez said. “There’s going to be a bunch of scouts, we just want to make a name for ourselves.”

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Raiders run cold late, fall in Division 2A Championship game

Posted on 08 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora's Adam Marlow works with the ball in the backcourt against Calabasas guard Larry Bush during the second half of Sonora's  66-47 loss to Calabasas at Honda Center, Saturday afternoon.

Sonora’s Adam Marlow works with the ball in the backcourt against Calabasas guard Larry Bush during the second half of Sonora’s 66-47 loss to Calabasas at Honda Center, Saturday afternoon. Photos by Alex Avina, La Habra Journal

Scroll down to view more photos from this game.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

ANAHEIM – Undersized in comparison to its opponent, the Sonora boys’ basketball team fought hard, but went cold from the floor late in falling to Calabasas 66-47 in the CIF-SS Division 2A Championship game, Saturday afternoon at Honda Center.

The Raiders hung tough through three quarters and shrunk their deficit to 44-41 early in the fourth quarter, but missed their next 14 shots and the Coyotes pulled away using their size inside on the other end.

“Against their size, it was really hard to get good shots,” said Ben Rico, who scored 12 points. “They played tough defense, it was definitely a factor today.”

Calabasas center Austin Smith scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while guard Conner Longmire scored 17 points and made two layups in the fourth quarter to counteract Sonora’s early-quarter comeback attempt.

The Coyotes (27-5) closed out the game with free throws, denying Sonora its first title in 30 years.

“We hadn’t seen them live, they’re more athletic than I thought,” Murphy said. “They’re extremely physical, really well coached, they’re probably the toughest team we faced this year.”

After falling behind early, Sonora (28-4) used the second and third quarters to march back.

In the third quarter, Josh Rodriguez led the Raiders and scored their first seven points of the quarter.

However, each time Sonora pulled close, Calabasas broke loose again. Smith scored seven points in the third quarter and Larry Bush added six of his 12 points as the Coyotes took a 42-35 lead into the fourth quarter. Bush also contributed with seven rebounds.

Sonora's Steven Murphy defends against Calabasas guard Conner Longmire during the second half of Sonora's 66-47 loss against Calabasas, Saturday afternoon at Honda Center.

Sonora’s Steven Murphy defends against Calabasas guard Conner Longmire during the second half of Sonora’s 66-47 loss against Calabasas, Saturday afternoon at Honda Center.

Rico began the fourth quarter with a pair of tough jump shots and a pair of free throws to pull Sonora within three points, but that was the closest Sonora would get.

“We just couldn’t score,” Murphy said of the drought. “When you can’t score, you try to extend the defense and create some baskets with our defense. Their guards are really good and they made us foul them at the end.”

In the first quarter, the combination of size and quickness helped Calabasas take an early lead.

While Justin Bessard battled inside for six points, Longmire hit a 3-pointer and completed another three-point play as the Coyotes led 20-12 after the first quarter.

“I thought our team did a tremendous job in this game,” said Jon Palarz, Calabasas head coach. “Our whole team did great in preparation and we played really well on defense, I couldn’t ask for anything more from our guys. Sonora’s a fantastic team and I feel very fortunate to [come away with the win].”

The Raiders quickly erased most of that deficit to start the second quarter, using Steven Murphy for tough baskets inside, the junior scored twice and was fouled on both plays, but made only one of his two free throws.

Halfway through the second quarter, a basket by Rodriguez shrunk the deficit to 24-22. Both defenses took over, altering shots as both teams struggled from the floor.

“I thought we were hurting them early with our drive-and-kick offense, we got some good looks,” Murphy said. “I thought Josh and Adam [Marlow] were able to get to the basket, but we couldn’t finish. We had a tough time finishing.”

A late basket by center Austin Smith gave Calabasas a 26-22 lead at halftime.

Rodriguez led Sonora with 14 points and five assists, while Rico added 12 points and 10 rebounds, but the Raiders shot 16-of-56 from the floor and 4-of-22 on 3-pointers.

Steven Murphy finished with seven points, while Marlow added five points.

Calabasas earned its second title in the last three years. The Coyotes won the CIF-SS 3AA Championship in 2012.

Despite the loss, the Raiders still qualified for the Division 2 South Regional playoffs with the No. 8 seed. Sonora will host Monache High of Porterville, Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Sonora High.

“We’re just ecstatic about getting a chance to play in State, we’ve never been to the State playoffs,” Murphy said. “We definitely didn’t want to end after this game, so we’ll see where we’re at in the bracket tomorrow and we’ll practice on Monday.”

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Sonora earns CIF Championship berth after fighting off scrappy Oak Hills

Posted on 04 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

Josh Rodriguez led the Raiders early with 11 first-half points and Sonora earned a berth into the CIF-SS Division 2A Championship game by defeating Oak Hills 57-46 at home, Tuesday night.

Josh Rodriguez led the Raiders early with 11 first-half points and Sonora earned a berth into the CIF-SS Division 2A Championship game by defeating Oak Hills 57-46 at home, Tuesday night.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

In six attempts in his first 28 years as a high school boys’ basketball head coach, Sonora’s Mike Murphy came up short in semifinal games, five of which were while coaching the Raiders.

Against a scrappy Oak Hills team, the Sonora boys’ basketball team gave its head coach his first opportunity at coaching a CIF Championship game by running away in the fourth quarter to a 57-46 victory, Tuesday night at home.

The win gives Murphy his first shot at a CIF title with Sonora in his 24-year tenure.

“There’s not a better group of guys I’d rather be with and Murphy deserves this more than anyone,” said Ben Rico, who led the team in scoring. “We did this for him, it’s all for him.”

From the midway point of the first quarter on, the Raiders never trailed, though the Bulldogs pulled within a basket on multiple occasions thanks to their work on the offensive rebounds.

Each time Oak Hills closed the gap, Sonora found a run with the shooting touch of both Ben Rico and Josh Rodriguez, who led the team with 18 and 17 points, respectively.

“We trusted in each other, we had to keep moving the ball and take time off the shot clock,” Rico said. “We had a couple possessions where we were a little selfish, but once we started finding each other, they couldn’t stop us and that kept us ahead.”

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter, after Rico hit a 3-pointer to put Sonora up 49-39 with 3:04 remaining in the game, that Sonora seemed to have the edge.

Rico scored 11 points in the second half, while Rodriguez helped the team early, with 11 first-half points.

Rico also led the team with eight rebounds and five steals.

“It’s been a year of firsts for us this year,” Murphy said. “We’ve got two guys in Rico and Rodriguez and tonight they showed why they’re special. We told Ben that he’s a beautiful player, he looks great out there, but he’s got to do the dirty stuff tonight, he’s got to rebound and defend and he did that tonight. We don’t win this game without Rico.”

Defensively, the Raiders caused problems inside and out. Junior center Steven Murphy knocked away six shots, while Rico used his reach to cut off passing lanes and force turnovers, which led to four fastbreak layups by either Rodriguez or Adam Marlow.

However, if Oak Hills put up a shot, the Bulldogs found a way to track down offensive rebounds for put-backs or trips to the free throw line to keep it close.

“We had to put bodies in on the rebound and they were killing us with that a bit in the first half,” Marlow said. “But we knew we had to battle back and we just find a way to overcome it, it’s been that way all season.”

Oak Hills (25-5) started well, using that aggressive style to push its way to an early 6-2 lead.

However, after a technical delay, the Raiders stormed back and ended the quarter on a 13-0 run to take a 19-10 lead with Rodriguez hitting a layup before the buzzer.

The Bulldogs slowed down Sonora’s offense in the second quarter, cutting the Raiders’ lead to 27-22 at halftime.

“We knew their guards are really good and we figured we couldn’t stop all of them, but we’d try and stop everyone else,” said Shaun Mora, Oak Hills head coach. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that through three quarters. They would get a run and we’d come back, but we got our heads down a little bit and they stayed even keel and showed that maturity and that’s what won them the game.”

Oak Hills reduced the deficit to three points twice in the third quarter, but Sonora responded with fastbreak points by Rodriguez and two jumpers by Rico, who created space on both attempts near the free-throw line.

Nick Scott, who led the Bulldogs with 12 points, scored eight points in the second half and helped Oak Hills fight back again in the fourth quarter.

But for the second consecutive game, Sonora (28-3) closed out strong and went to Steven Murphy for two baskets to give the Raiders initial separation.

Rico’s 3-pointer put the pressure on and Sonora sealed it with its defense.

“I told our guys that we didn’t want to get in a fight with them because we’d lose,” Mike Murphy said. “They were really physical, they rebounded well. We hadn’t won when we’re beaten on the boards and they probably had a few more than we did, but rebounding, that was their whole thing.”

For Oak Hills, the three wins in the playoffs were the first for the program in its brief history. The Bulldogs were undefeated Mojave River League champions.

“For us to make the playoffs was amazing and to win three games is just icing on the cake, I’m really proud of them,” Mora said. “We wanted to try and prove that we’re not just High Desert basketball, we didn’t want that label. We wanted to show that we could come down and compete with teams. We just want to be known as Oak Hills basketball and I think we did that this year.”

For the Raiders, a matchup with Calabasas awaits in the CIF-SS Division 2A Championship game, which will take place at the Honda Center, Saturday at noon.

“Nothing’s really phased us so far,” Marlow said. “This is a dream come true and I think we’re going to be ready, we’re not going to back down, whatever happens.”

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Raiders win in comeback fashion against Arlington in quarterfinals

Posted on 28 February 2014 by La Habra Journal

Ben Rico hit a clutch 3-pointer to give the Raiders a 49-44 lead with 19.1 seconds remaining, leading to a 49-46 road win over Arlington in the CIF-SS Division 2A quarterfinals, Friday night.

Ben Rico hit a clutch 3-pointer to give the Raiders a 49-44 lead with 19.1 seconds remaining, leading to a 49-46 road win over Arlington in the CIF-SS Division 2A quarterfinals, Friday night.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

RIVERSIDE – Traveling for the second time in four days, the Sonora boys’ basketball team persevered in a tough environment, leading to a narrow 49-46 victory against Arlington in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs, Friday night at Arlington High.

After scoring the game’s first bucket, the Raiders found themselves trailing the Lions throughout the contest until a 3-pointer by Adam Marlow gave Sonora the lead back at 42-40 with 5:12 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The lead would remain slim until junior Ben Rico hit a crucial 3-pointer from the corner to give Sonora a 49-44 lead with 19.1 seconds remaining.

“It was a big shot, Josh [Rodriguez] found me in the corner, I’ve been cold the past couple games, but I wasn’t missing that one,” Rico said. “We knew [long road games] could be the case coming into the playoffs, we don’t let the drives faze us, we just come out ready to play our game. Today we came out a little flat, but we worked hard and got the win.”

Both teams exploited their opponents’ defenses. Early on, center Steven Murphy’s movement down low led to easy layups and he scored six points in the first quarter.

Arlington countered with sophomore guard Kayn Calhoun, who used his quickness to gain separation for a pair of 3-pointers and a driving layup.

However, the Lions had to alter their gameplan when Calhoun went down with a right leg injury late in the first quarter.

“It changed our gameplan quite a bit,” said Arlington Head Coach John Seydel of the injury. “The nice thing about Kayn is that he has nice speed with the ball to penetrate, but if he backs off, he can hit 3s, but that’s the game, things happen, it definitely changed the gameplan. I give [Sonora] all the credit for the comeback, I thought we played pretty well too.”

Still, Arlington fed off the home crowd and kept itself two steps ahead of the Raiders in a low-scoring second quarter. The Lions led 26-21 at halftime behind Kenshael Airrington’s 13 first-half points.

Sonora came out ready to play in the third quarter, starting with a rebound putback by Rico, which led to a three-point play.

“Tonight, I was trying to be really calm [at halftime] because it seemed like they were frazzled,” Mike Murphy said. “I thought we came out and did a good job in the second half, but I liked our sets tonight, we kept getting layups early and that kept us in the game in the first half.”

However, Seydel would use Airrington to shield Murphy away from the ball-handler, forcing Sonora to make a choice to double -team him, or leave him in a favorable position in the post. Ultimately, it led to uncontested 3-pointers, of which Arlington made four in the quarter.

However, Sonora countered by driving in and finding Murphy who fought for five points in the quarter. The Raiders also hit clutch shots, including 3-pointers by Josh Rodriguez and Rico to tie up the ballgame at 37-37.

But the Lions shielded Murphy one more time, leading to a buzzer-beating shot by Brandon Jackson to take a 40-37 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“They’re very solid and have good quickness and we don’t have much size,” Seydel said. “Because of that, we try to make our opponents’ big men move, but I thought he did a pretty good job tonight. We try to make their bigs defend our pick-and-roll and it worked pretty well tonight.”

But as the Raiders have done before in tough environments, they pulled through late. Rhodes started the fourth quarter with a jump shot, followed by Marlow’s 3-pointer as Sonora regained the lead.

Josh Rodriguez followed with a jumper and Murphy put in a layup, but Airrington and Robert Garcia drove in for layups to decrease the deficit to two points, leading to an Arlington timeout.

After the break, Rodriguez found Rico in the corner, who buried the 3-pointer and all but sealed the come-from-behind victory for the Raiders.

“This was a tough team, a lot like a Sunny Hills or a Canyon,” Mike Murphy said. “Our schedule played a big part in this, we played those guys four times and that really prepared us for tonight. We’ve had a lot of ugly wins this year and as long as we have one more point in the end, we’re all right.”

Murphy and Rico led the Raiders with 13 points each, while Rodriguez added 12 points and Marlow led with eight rebounds.

Airrington led the Lions with 15 points, 13 of which came in the first half. Calhoun, who re-entered the game toward the end of the second quarter, scored eight of his 13 points in the first quarter.

Arlington finishes its season with a 19-10 record and has three starters returning next season.

“We had 10 losses, but when I look at those, I don’t see any bad losses, they were all against quality teams,” Seydel said. “That’s a credit to our kids for showing up and working together.”

Sonora (27-3) will host a semifinal game for the first time in Mike Murphy’s career at the school. The Raiders, who haven’t lost at home in two years, will face off against Oak Hills of Hesperia, Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

“We haven’t lost their in two years, so I think we’re looking good,” Rico said. “We’re really tough to beat at home, so it should be a fun game.”

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Sonora goes the distance, gets past Righetti in second round

Posted on 26 February 2014 by La Habra Journal

Ben Rico (pictured against Troy) scored 20 points and secured 11 rebounds in the Raiders' 67-48 road victory at Righetti in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs, Tuesday night.

Ben Rico (pictured against Troy) scored 20 points and secured 11 rebounds in the Raiders’ 67-48 road victory at Righetti in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs, Tuesday night.

SANTA MARIA – Not even a 180-mile one way trip could slow down the top-seeded Sonora boys’ basketball team in a 67-48 victory over Righetti in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs.

Despite being on the road for over three hours before the game, the Raiders sprinted out to an early lead and held it throughout to move on to the quarterfinal round, which surpasses the team’s finish from a season ago.

Josh Rodriguez led the Raiders with 22 points and seven assists, while Ben Rico posted a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Adam Marlow also scored in double digits with 13 points and Christian Rhodes supplied support with five assists and five steals.

Sonora (26-3) started strong, scoring 21 points in the first quarter, which led to a 32-24 halftime lead. In the third quarter, the Raiders gained separation by outscoring the Warriors 16-7.

Righetti (16-11) was led by junior forward Cameron Walker’s 19 points.

The Raiders will play a second consecutive road contest on Friday when they battle Arlington of Riverside in the quarterinals, Friday at 7 p.m.

The Lions defeated Redlands East Valley in the second round, 71-70.

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Rodriguez leads Raiders in first round rout

Posted on 21 February 2014 by La Habra Journal

Josh Rodriguez led all scorers with 29 points as the Raiders routed Nogales 72-43 in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs, Friday night at home.

Josh Rodriguez led all scorers with 29 points as the Raiders routed Nogales 72-43 in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs, Friday night at home.

by Daniel Hargis
La Habra Journal

The Sonora High School boy’s basketball team shut the door in the first quarter on the visiting Nogales Nobles and never looked back en route to a 72-43 victory Friday night in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section 2A playoffs at Sonora High..

Coming out of a timeout tied 7-7, the Raiders (25-3) used a 14-5 scoring run to close out the first quarter to take a 21-12 lead.

“We saw some tape on them and I thought they were small and I thought if we played well we could win pretty convincingly,” Sonora head coach Mike Murphy said.

Despite the offensive output Sonora exhibited, defense and rebounding were vital to their success, including slowing down Nogales’ senior center Andrew Bullock.

“We defended better, I thought our defense was pretty good,” Murphy said. “We ran them off the three-point line in the second half.”

Sonora took advantage of transition offense opportunities that came from running hard down the floor, which was fueled in part by Nogales’ three-point and jump-shooting style of play.

Once in the halfcourt set, the Raiders used quick, cross-court ball movement to break down the Nobles’ defense, which resulted in easy layups at the rim or wide-open three-point and long two-point attempts.

“I thought we attacked their man defense really well, got easy baskets, and moved the ball,” Murphy said. “I really like the way we moved the ball tonight.”

Sonora (25-3) is the No. 1 seed in the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs, but they knew they could not take Nogales (14-13) lightly, which proved to be true just minutes into the game.

Behind a loud and energetic student section, things looked like they would be easy from the very start after junior forward Ben Rico converted a three-point play to open the game.

However the Nobles’ junior guard Ethan Anonas responded with a bucket of his own from beyond the arc to knot the game at three.

“We couldn’t underestimate them, they were a good team, they can hit three’s left and right and we knew that coming in,” junior center Steven Murphy said.

But the Raiders’ confidence remained evident throughout the team in the opening minutes as they gave away easy turnovers stemming from tricky cross-court passing.

Both teams traded layups until the timeout with 4:29 remaining in the quarter, and the game knotted at 7-7.

Coming out of the timeout Sonora pressed harder in the passing lanes on defense, resulting in steals and transition buckets that helped build their insurmountable first quarter lead.

Junior guard Josh Rodriguez, who scored a game-high 29 points, opened things up in the second quarter after which the Raiders headed to the locker room with a 36-22 advantage.

“(We wanted to) just focus on our defense and get the little things,” Rodriguez said. “Just get the little things so we’re ready for the next big team.”

Sonora did just that, mostly by dominating the boards and applying more perimeter pressure in the second half, which resulted in a lead that grew larger in each quarter.

That lead grew to 30 points until it was squandered by a free throw with five seconds left, leading to the 72-43 final.

“I thought Steven Murphy was just a monster tonight,” Mike Murphy said. “I thought he was great on their big kid, who averages 21 rebounds per game, and I thought Steven kept him off the boards all night and rebounded like a champ.”

Looking ahead to Tuesday night’s second round game on the road against Righetti High School, who were 58-46 winners over Garden Grove in their first round matchup, the team knows they need to continue to stress defense and rebounding.

“We know this next round is going to be a lot tougher, they have a lot of good, talented big guys and if we can stop them we know we can beat them from the outside,” Steven Murphy said.

“We’ve been talking about it, the only way you win a CIF title is you have to defend and you have to rebound,” Mike Murphy said.

Rico rounded out the scoring leaders with 17 points followed by 10 from Steven Murphy. The Nobles were led by junior guard Justin Roque with 20 points and Anonas with 10.

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Sonora completes first undefeated league season since 2001, Lady Raiders force one-game playoff

Posted on 14 February 2014 by La Habra Journal

Josh Rodriguez led the Raiders with26 points as Sonora defeated Sunny Hills 83-73, Thursday night at Sonora.

Josh Rodriguez led the Raiders with26 points as Sonora defeated Sunny Hills 83-73, Thursday night at Sonora.

by Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal

The Sonora boys basketball team finished off their undefeated run through the Freeway League with an 83-73 victory over Sunny Hills, Friday, at Sonora.  They are the first team to go undefeated in Freeway League play since 2001.

“This is a special team,” said senior Roy Saucedo. “We came into the year and this was our goal. To be able to do it shows a lot about our team.”

Josh Rodriguez led the offensive attack for Sonora. Rodriguez had 26 points and also added nine rebounds and three assists. Of the 26 points, 12 came in the second quarter alone.

“My shots started falling and I felt like I could make anything,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t even describe how we feel right now.”

Besides Rodriguez, four other Raiders scored in double figures.

Adam Marlow had 15 points. Ben Rico had 13 points. Steven Murphy had 11 and Christian Rhodes had 10.

Rico was held scoreless until he got a steal and nailed a buzzer-beating three-point shot from well beyond the arc at the end of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Rico erupted for 10 points and began to attack the basket more.

“Ben was huge for us tonight,” head coach Mike Murphy said. “He made that three and got the confidence back. He did a really good job adjusting his game.”

Along with the balanced effort in points, the Raiders also had four guys with at least nine rebounds. Rico led the team with 10, and picked up his second consecutive double double.  Murphy, Rodriguez and Saucedo had nine each.

Sonora did not start the senior Saucedo and elected to go with Christian Rhodes due to his 10-point performance against the Lancers earlier this season. As soon as Saucedo came in he took over the game with some big rebounds.

“We didn’t start Roy today and it seemed like he played that much harder,” Mike Murphy said. “He is an energy guy for sure and he came in and just played harder than anybody else on the court. His rebounds late were huge and he got us some extra possessions to help run some clock off.”

Now that the regular season is over, the Raiders will turn their attention to the CIF playoffs. They are going in as one of the favorites in Division 2A and look to make a deep run.

“We are through the roof right now after finishing undefeated,” Marlow said. “But, we need to get back at it and play some basketball. We can’t let it get to out heads.”

Mike Murphy is in his 29th year as a high school head coach and knows that this team may be one of his best chances for an elusive CIF championship.

“I am 0-29 in CIF,” Mike Murphy said. “This is a special team. This team has as good of a chance as any team I have had in a long time.”

GIRLS VARSITY

The Sonora girls’ basketball team finished its 2014 campaign on a strong note with a 59-45 victory over visiting Sunny Hills, Thursday night.

Meghann Henderson led a Lady Raiders’ charge with 17 points, while Lauren Nakahara scored 13 points and Marissa Dunn added 12 points.

Sonora got off to a quick start and held a 38-24 lead at halftime.

After a slow third quarter, the Lady Raiders outscored the Lady Lancers 16-9 in the final quarter to take the win.

The win by Sonora created a three-way tie for third place in the Freeway League.

The Lady Raiders will face Sunny Hills again, Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Sonora High.

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Sonora boys hoops clinch outright league title, Lady Highlanders add history to rivalry

Posted on 12 February 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora's Josh Rodriguez attempts a layup while La Habra's Adam Cooley attempts to block during the first half of Sonora's league title-clinching 58-41 win at La Habra, Tuesday night.

Sonora’s Josh Rodriguez attempts a layup while La Habra’s Adam Cooley attempts to block during the first half of Sonora’s league title-clinching 58-41 win at La Habra, Tuesday night. Photos by Erik Markus, La Habra Journal

by Sarah Fenton
La Habra Journal

The Sonora boys’ basketball team beat La Habra, 58-41, and clinched the Freeway League title in the rivalry game at La Habra High School on Tuesday.

Despite the win, Sonora Head Coach Mike Murphy wasn’t pleased with his team’s preparation for the game as evidenced by a tie ballgame at halftime.

“Not very well, obviously,” Murphy said on how the team prepared for the rivalry. “We thought we did, but they definitely outcoached us. Their team was more prepared than us, especially at the beginning of the game. We had a really hard time against that zone and we really never did figure it out.”

La Habra (15-10, 4-5) started the game on top with two consecutive 3-pointers by Justin Jaimez and David Desatoff followed with a layup by Alex Evanoff.

Sonora (23-3, 9-0) fought back by scoring eight points to tie the game with a little over two minutes left in the quarter.

Michael Banks gave the lead back to La Habra with a three-pointer, but Sonora responded with a layup made by Josh Rodriguez.

Desatoff was fouled and made both free throws, but Ben Rico came back with a layup for the Raiders and was fouled on the drive. Rico made the free throw to complete the three-point play.

Banks sank a jump shot at the end of the quarter, giving La Habra the lead, 15-13, going into the second quarter.

Adam Marlow was fouled at the beginning of the second quarter and made both free throws to tie the game, 15-15.

Jaimez responded with a driving layup to give La Habra the lead, but Sonora’s Steven Murphy was fouled shortly after and made both free throws to tie the game, 17-17.

The Highlanders countered with a layup made by Jaimez and a three-pointer by Josh Garcia. Desatoff was fouled with a little over two minutes left in the half, but the fire alarm went off as he was approaching the free throw line.

School officials confirmed that there wasn’t a fire as La Habra’s student section, referred to as the “6th Man Clan,” chanted, “We’re too hot.” Desatoff made one of two free throws, giving La Habra the lead 23-17.

La Habra's David Desatoff draws a foul against Sonora's Adam Marlow during the second half of the Raiders' 58-41 win at La Habra, Tuesday night.

La Habra’s David Desatoff draws a foul against Sonora’s Adam Marlow during the second half of the Raiders’ 58-41 win at La Habra, Tuesday night.

Sonora came back at the end of the quarter and tied the game, 27-27, going into halftime.

“We went over what we could do against their zone to try to get some shots,” Murphy said. “We’ve really been struggling. We can’t make any shots and it’s been frustrating because we’ve had good looks, so hopefully we can shake out of that slump before the playoffs.”

Sonora started the second half with a shot made by Rodriguez, but La Habra’s Zach Gray responded with a baseline drive for a layup.

The Raiders scored six consecutive points, four by Rodriguez and two from Rico. La Habra returned with a long three-pointer made by David Desatoff, cutting Sonora’s lead to 36-32.

Sonora pushed the ball on offense and scored 11 consecutive points at the end of the quarter. Sonora led, 47-35, going into the final half.

The Raiders started the fourth quarter with two baskets made by Marlow and a reverse layup by Roy Saucedo. Adam Cooley responded with a layup, but Sonora continued to lead, 53-37.

The Highlanders fought hard to try to regain the lead but the Raiders’ defense stayed strong, allowing them to clinch the win and the league title.

“Defensively we have to give them credit because they made good shots,” said David Ploog, La Habra head coach. “They made eight in a row to start the third quarter, made some big threes, but we didn’t come out with the energy we needed in the third quarter. They got a couple of offensive rebounds and put-backs and that hurt us. We were a little flat defensively in the third quarter.”

Rico led Sonora in scoring with 18 points.

The Highlanders will finish fourth in the Freeway League this season, after Troy’s win over Sunny Hills forced a tie between the two for second place. Both teams sit two games ahead of the Highlanders with one game remaining.

La Habra’s next game will be against Buena Park on Thursday at Buena Park High School.

“They’re really physical, so we have to be sure to play them real tough and meet their physicality at their place,” Ploog said. “They always play well at Buena Park. We have to come out and really have a good practice tomorrow and get ready for their physical play and work on our defense and our offensive plays to get ready for that.”

Sonora’s next game will be again Sunny Hills at home on Thursday.

“The next game is Sunny Hills so it’s a tough prep there,” Murphy said. “They’re so fast and they’re so quick. We’re just going to get together tomorrow at practice and get ready for Sunny Hills.”

Sonora's Meghann Henderson attempts a shot while La Habra's Megan Chancellor defends during the fourth quarter of La Habra's 48-45 win at home, Tuesday night.

Sonora’s Meghann Henderson attempts a shot while La Habra’s Megan Chancellor defends during the fourth quarter of La Habra’s 48-45 win at home, Tuesday night.

GIRLS VARSITY

History was made as the La Habra girls’ basketball team beat Sonora, 48-45, on Tuesday night at La Habra High School. The Lady Highlanders swept the Lady Raiders for the first time since 1997.

La Habra (14-10, 7-2) got off to a rough start in the first quarter, allowing Sonora to score the first four points of the game.

Megan Chancellor scored the first two points for La Habra, but Meghann Henderson responded with two consecutive steals for layups, giving Sonora (10-14, 3-6) the lead, 8-2.

Late in the first quarter Lizette Martinez sank a baseline jump shot, but was pushed out of bounds and fouled. Martinez made the free throw to complete the three-point play. However, Sonora led, 17-7, going into the second quarter.

Ashleigh Bessler stepped up defensively for La Habra and had two big blocks within seconds of each other, allowing the Lady Highlanders to regain possession of the ball.

“I’m glad they didn’t call them fouls,” said Ashleigh Bessler. “They usually do because I’m so much bigger so they usually call them fouls every time. They game was aggressive, but it made me want to play harder because I was getting angry.”

La Habra pushed the ball on offense and scored on three consecutive possessions. With a little over three minutes left in the half, Martinez faked out her defender and sank a jump shot. La Habra trailed Sonora 17-15.

The Lady Raiders responded with a layup and three-pointer, both made by Henderson.

Still trailing Sonora, Emma Zener sank a three-pointer with a little over a minute left in the quarter, giving the Lady Highlanders the momentum they needed to fight back on offense.

Martinez followed with a layup, assisted by Kaili Peko and Larissa Maehara ended the quarter with a three-pointer, giving La Habra the lead 24-23 going into halftime.

“I wanted to let them know that the first three minutes of this next quarter are the most important,” said Jim Bohn, La Habra head coach. “You have to own that and I thought we did that well. At the end we looked like a young team, turning it over and playing right into their game and I give them credit. Sonora stuck in there and they played hard.”

Henderson was the first to score in the third quarter, giving Sonora the lead.

The game got physical and the crowd got rowdy towards the end of the quarter as both teams battled for the lead.

La Habra played hard on offense and Amanda Cuervo drove through defenders for a layup with less than two minutes remaining in the quarter, giving The Lady Highlanders the lead, 34-25.

The intensity increased as the game got aggressive and Sonora’s head coach, Melissa Barajas, was given a double technical and kicked out of the game after walking on the court to talk to the referee following a called foul.

Zener made three of the four technical free throws for La Habra. The Lady Highlanders continued their lead, 38-28, going into the final quarter.

Chancellor started the fourth quarter with a layup assisted by Bessler and Maehara followed by sinking a jump shot, which advanced the score to 42-28.

But Barajas’ ejection served to fire up the Lady Raiders, as Sonora fought back on offense and scored eight points in a row at the end of the quarter.

Martinez came back with a layup under the basket, but Sonora responded with two free throws by Henderson and a layup by Lauren Nakahara. The Lady Raiders trailed, 45-42, with less than a minute left in the game.

Sonora fought to try to regain the lead at the end of the quarter, but the Lady Highlanders’ defense stayed strong as the time expired on the clock.

Zener led La Habra in scoring with 14 points and Martinez followed with 13 points. Henderson led Sonora in scoring with 21 points.

La Habra’s next game will be against Buena Park on Thursday at Buena Park High School.

“We have to get in the gym tomorrow and try to get our feet back on the ground,” Bohn said. “It’s important, we want to finish out league, 8-2, and Buena Park is not going to just give it to us. We have to go over there and compete. I want to make sure they’re grounded, that way we get ourselves into the playoff mode next week.”

Sonora, which swept La Habra last season, will host Sunny Hills in its season finale, Thursday night.

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Raiders wrap up league title despite lengthy shooting slump

Posted on 12 February 2014 by La Habra Journal

Junior Ben Rico has led the Raiders in scoring all season and led the team with 16 points in its league title clinching win over La Habra, Tuesday night.

Junior Ben Rico has led the Raiders in scoring all season and led the team with 16 points in its league title-clinching win over La Habra, Tuesday night.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

When the Sonora boys’ basketball team escaped Buena Park with a four-point victory back on Jan. 22, Head Coach Mike Murphy was disappointed with his team’s effort.

The Raiders came out flat, did not shoot well and allowed plenty of offensive rebounds to the Coyotes.

Since then, the Raiders, who are 23-3 overall, still haven’t regained a shooter’s touch that was on display during the preseason, but the result of that game taught the team a lesson that it would carry into a Freeway League championship, which the team secured outright with a 58-41 win at La Habra, Tuesday night.

The Freeway League title is Sonora’s 12th championship in Mike Murphy’s 24-year tenure with the program.

“We’re really resilient and a lot of us have returned from last year, so we have a lot of experience,” said Adam Marlow, senior captain. “We haven’t shot well since that game and earlier in the year, we would rely on the outscoring opponents, but if we’re not making shots, we have to find another way to win and that started against Buena Park. We’ve just been finding ways to win.”

During the course of the season, the Raiders have benefitted from consistency with its starters.

Juniors Ben Rico and Josh Rodriguez provide big scoring, Steven Murphy is the big body down low and Marlow shuts down the opposition’s best player with his defense, while providing big baskets in the fourth quarter, along with Rico, during close games.

Second half adjustments have been a factor as well, which allowed the Raiders to wrap up the league title a game early this season.

“It’s a huge weight off our shoulders,” said Ben Rico, Sonora’s leading scorer. “We’re No. 3 in the county and we earned that spot, we don’t think anyone is better than us. We’re going out there with confidence and we go out ready to play, it motivates us.”

However, some of those traits have shifted over the past few weeks to accommodate for Sonora’s shooting slump.

One of the biggest shifts has been the additional use of Steven Murphy as an offensive weapon.

In two of the Raiders’ last four games, Murphy has led the team in scoring with 22 and 19 point efforts. The junior center sat out one of those games with the flu.

In addition, Sonora has received increased contributions from its bench, most notably from guards Christian Rhodes, Jason McClung and Nathan Mendrin.

Rhodes scored 10 points off the bench in the team’s two-point win at Sunny Hills earlier this year. Mendrin has helped recently with his rebounding.

“They’ve been huge, any high school team needs a bench and ours is so good in its preparation,” Mike Murphy said. “Christian has been our sixth man all year, Jason is one of the best athletes on our team. He’s going to really help us next year. Nathan is the same way, he’s helped us immensely down the stretch and we can put him anywhere. They’re all really bright kids.”

Coach Murphy added that his bench players have memorized the offensive tendencies of all league opponents and that their use of those tendencies in practice have greatly helped the starters for upcoming games.

But the biggest factor has been Sonora’s experience, which was one of the reasons the team was projected to contend for the Freeway League title this season.

Because of that experience and the bench players’ readiness to step in and contribute, the team that has shown itself to be so potent on offense has earned that Freeway League title in the midst of a cold streak.

“People don’t give this league enough credit. Buena Park is 0-8 and they’ve played us tough twice,” Mike Murphy said. “We’ve just been in this horrible shooting slump for six or seven games now. Every game that’s been close, they’ve just found a way to win it.”

The Raiders also earned the title with one game to spare, which means no added pressure for Sonora when it matches up with Sunny Hills at home, Thursday night.

But what makes the feat even sweeter for Sonora’s players was celebrating on its main rival’s home floor.

“It definitely means a little more winning it here at La Habra,” Rico said. “The atmosphere is great, the fans are great, I just love it.”

Sonora is currently on a 12-game win streak and hasn’t lost since Dec. 28, a tournament loss to Parker High of San Diego.

But even with the team’s current success, both Mike Murphy and the team believe that it hasn’t come close to peaking yet this season.

“We’ll still be motivated to play Sunny Hills, they’re a very good team,” Murphy said. “We’re not playing our best basketball, we can play much better basketball and I’m hoping that before it’s all over, we can play like we’re capable of playing.”

The Raiders finish up the regular season at home on Thursday before entering the playoffs as a possible No. 2 seed in Division 2A.

If their shooting touch returns, there’s the potential for a deep playoff run.

“We want to focus on defense first, we’re always working on defense,” Marlow said. “The rest will come together and we’re hoping it does soon because CIF [playoffs] are all that’s left, so hopefully those shots start falling.”

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