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ROSE PALMISANO, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Capistrano Valley's Jacob Short tries to drive around Los Alamitos' James Noble in the second half of a game Thursday in the North O.C. Championships at Sonora High.

Sonora turns to its secret weapon

OCVARSITY.COM

Ben Rico has been one of Sonora's top offensive players.

In practice.

Rico turned in his best scoring performance of the season Thursday as the Raiders defeated El Modena, 86-44, at Sonora in a quarterfinal game of the North Orange County Championships.

Sonora (7-1) will play Capistrano Valley (3-6) in a semifinal Friday at Sonora at 7:30p.m. Mayfair of Lakewood plays Aliso Niguel in the other semifinal at 6 p.m.

Semifinal winners will meet in the championship game Saturday at 7:30p.m. at Sonora.

Not only was Thursday Rico's best scoring output, it was his first game in double figures. Rico, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, made seven 3-pointers in a row after missing his first three shots behind the arc.

"I've been waiting for this game from him," Sonora coach Mike Murphy said. "He's been killing people in practice. I knew this one was coming, and we needed it."

That's because Sonora's usual top scorers were having off nights. Jimmy Golden, who went into Thursday averaging a team-leading 22 points a game, was 2 for 7 from the floor and finished with 14 points, 10 of them from the free-throw line. Point guard Josh Rodriguez scored 14, four below his per-game average.

Rodriguez, a sophomore who transferred to Sonora from Foothill, contributed in other ways. He had seven assists, some of them to Rico for spot-up 3s, and four steals.

Rico enjoys having Rodriguez on his side.

"He gets the ball to everyone," Rico said. "He's a great passer."

Also in the North Orange County Championships:

Capistrano Valley 72, Los Alamitos 70: The Cougars (3-6) had a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter. The Griffins rallied to tie it, with Khalid Washington making a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining to send the game into the extra period.

In overtime, Capistrano Valley's Josh Littlejohn made a 3-pointer with 58 seconds remaining to give the Cougars a 69-68 lead.

Paul Kadletz of Los Alamitos scored off of an offensive rebound top put the Griffins ahead again by one with 16 seconds to go, but Capo's Ayman Farah made a 3 with six seconds left to give the Cougars the final margin.

Jacob Short led the Cougars with 30 points.

Wes Mitter paced Los Alamitos with 27 points, including three 3-pointers. Washington scored 23.


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