No. 10 Sonora dominates La Habra with its defense


Sonora’s gym is considered one of the most difficult venues in the county for opponents to play in. Now visiting teams also have to deal with a seemingly endless string of defenders the home team throws at them for 94 feet.

With the Raiders’ rowdy student section turning up the volume after each on-court miscue, La Habra’s girls basketball team found itself immersed in a sea of trouble by the half Wednesday night.

Tenth-ranked Sonora overwhelmed its city rivals with its smothering, full-court pressure, riding the defensive effort to a 45-23 victory against the Highlanders in a Freeway League opener in front of a packed gym.

The Raiders (15-1, 1-0) forced 38 turnovers, causing the Highlanders to blunder on nearly 60 percent of their possessions.

“We know that we’re not always going to be strong offensively, so we always rely on our defense,” Sonora coach Melissa Barajas said. “I won’t sugarcoat it, we were bad (offensively). If you don’t score, you can’t press, but we still had an opportunity to tonight. I though we did a good job pressuring in the half court, fronting, and taking away their center.”

Raiders junior point guard Meghann Henderson made a compelling case to be mentioned as one of the county’s top on-ball defenders, tallying 11 steals to go with a handful of blocks.

La Habra (12-5, 0-1) did not score in the first quarter, and failed to get off a shot for a four and a half-minute span that stretched from late in the first quarter to early in the second. Senior center Ashleigh Bessler knocked down the Highlanders’ first – and only – bucket of the first half with 3:07 remaining in the second quarter.

Sonora led, 16-2, at the break, and extended that lead to 31-10 after three.

Sophomore guard Lainie James led the Raiders with 18 points. Teammate Marissa Dunn finished with seven, and added five steals.

Bessler paced the Highlanders with eight points.

Also in the Freeway League:

No. 3 Troy 63, Sunny Hills 13: The Warriors (9-4, 1-0) held the host Lancers (6-11, 0-1) to two second-half points as they extended their CIF-SS record to 191 straight league wins. Rebecca Lazuka and Kianna Smith each scored 11 points for Troy.

In the Garden Grove League:

Bolsa Grande 51, Los Amigos 32: Sophomore guard Tiffany Ly drained a season-high four 3-pointers and led the Matadors (10-6, 1-0) with 17 points in the league opener.

Rancho Alamitos 41, La Quinta 33: Patrice Jones and Gabrielle Carbajal combined for 29 of the 41 points for the Vaqueros (8-6, 1-0), and led a come-from-behind win over the visiting Aztecs (5-10, 0-1). La Quinta center Taryn Nadeau scored nine points, grabbed 21 rebounds and blocked five shots.

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