In a highly anticipated Freeway League opener on Wednesday night, Sonora leaned on their experience to gut out a 56-43 win over a young and very talented Buena Park, who came into the matchup with a record of 12-3 and ranked #1 in CIF Division 4AA. Led by a trio of Freshman and Sophomore Melia Hinojos, the Coyotes came out playing fast on offense and used a suffocating zone defense to hold the Raiders without a field goal on their way to a 13-3 lead after the 1st. Sonora settled down and cut their deficit to 20-13 late in the 2nd before using their full court pressure to go on an 8-0 in under :30 to take a 21-20 lead. The Raiders would maintain their lead as they took a 25-24 lead over Buena Park into the half.
Senior Larissa Robles, whom the Coyotes were face guarding for much of the half, led Sonora with 6 points. Freshmen Alana White and Sydnie Lendsey both scored 7 for the Coyotes while Bella Harmon and Melia Hinojos each added 5.
It was a back and forth 3rd quarter but the Raiders would take a 41-38 lead into the 4th behind Senior Kiana Graham’s 7 points, including a big and one on a 3. It was all Sonora in the 4th as the Raiders outscored Buena Park 15-5 behind the excellent play of Freshman Liana Hwang, who scored 8 second half points and made multiple hustle plays, to pull away for the win and improve to 16-2. Buena Park will look to bounce back when they host #25 Troy on Friday night while Sonora will host Fullerton.
Leading Scorers and Player Evaluations:
Kiana Graham (16): Plays under control, lets the game come to her, and does not get sped up. Can score on all 3 levels and plays great on-ball defense.
Liana Hwang (12): Tough, gritty freshman who does all the little things on both ends of the court. Strong driver who can finish in traffic.
Alana White (18): Extremely impressive Freshman post who has phenomenal footwork with a soft touch. Very skilled on offense and controls the paint defensively.
Sydnie Lendsey (12): Very skilled and athletic Freshman guard who plays with great energy and physicality. Scores on all 3 levels, is crafty at the rim, has great vision and a strong off-hand.