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MATT MASIN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Sonora's Melissa Barajas is the Register's girls basketball coach of the year.

Girls basketball coach of the year: Melissa Barajas, Sonora

STAFF WRITER

Sonora basketball has been good to Melissa Barajas and her family, and the same can be said the other way around.

The Barajas family has been more than good to Sonora hoops.

In the last 13 months, Barajas has watched her son, Christian Rhodes, help the Raiders capture a CIF-SS boys championship, and she guided - with her husband Danny and daughter Stella on the bench for every game - the school’s girls team to its first CIF-SS final this season.

Sonora’s 28-5 overall record, runner-up finish in the loaded Division 3AA playoffs and appearance in the CIF Southern California Regionals were significant achievements, and the Register has selected Barajas as Orange County’s girls basketball coach of the year.

“I think I’m still a little bit in awe,” Barajas said, reflecting back on Sonora’s season. “It was an amazing journey and I’m just so thankful I had great kids. … I’ve got great families. It’s great to go to practice every day and work with these kids.

“I was impressed with how they stayed focused – because the season gets long – and they stayed focused the whole time.”

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ALL-COUNTY GIRLS BASKETBALL

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It’s easy to sell high schoolers on offense and playing an up-tempo style of ball. Barajas and the Raiders focused on the defensive end. They were one of the stingiest units in Orange County, surrendering just 31 points per game with an in-your-face, full-court press that was a nightmare for most opponents.

The Raiders’ five losses came at the hands of Troy (twice), Orange Lutheran (in the 3AA final), Norco (in the regionals) and Foothill.

“We were just really proud of them,” Barajas said of the players. “We knew that was a really tough team that we lost to (Orange Lutheran) in the finals. Our girls gave us outstanding effort.

“We just wanted to remind the younger kids (after the game) that it took a lot of effort for us get there, and they’re going to need to build off that effort. We’re not going to be able to sit on the great things we did last year.”

Contact the writer: kconnnolly@ocregister.com


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