By Stephen Ramirez
LA HABRA – If the Sonora High School boys basketball needed a reminder that the road back to the CIF-Southern Section finals won’t be an easy one, it got it early Wednesday.
The Raiders responded like a championship team should
Christian Rhodes scored 17 points and Aashad Womack had 16 as Sonora recovered from a slow start and smothered visiting Bloomington, 82-35, in a 3AA Division first-round game.
The top-seeded Raiders, also getting 14 points from Ben Rico, improved to 24-4 and will face either Northwood or Norwalk in the second round on Friday. Brandon Simiano had 12 points for the Bruins, who finished 11-15.
“We’ve been forward looking to the playoffs since the final buzzer at the Honda Center last year,” Rico said. “This was it. We came out slow, but we adjusted in the second half and played the game like we should have.”
Sonora, which nearly missed entrance into the Open Division, outscored Bloomington, 65-9, over the final three quarters.
The key moments came in the second and third quarters. The Raiders, after falling behind 14-10 in the first quarter, closed the second with a 19-7 surge to lead 36-26 at halftime. They followed with a 28-4 blitz in the third quarter to go up 64-30 after three quarters.
“It was intensity (in the second half),” Sonora coach Mike Murphy said. “We played much harder in the second half. They got our attention in the first half. But that’s a good basketball team, and if you don’t come ready to play, they exposed us.”
But Sonora was able to wake up and recover.
Rhodes, who scored 14 of his 17 in the first half, made three consecutive fast-break layups to key a 13-3 run at the end of the second quarter.
Womack started the third with a 3-pointer and a putback for a 41-28 lead at 5:14 before Jason McClung had a 3-pointer and Rico a 3-point play to push it to 49-28 at 4:03. Rico had nine points in the second half.
Simiano and Carlos Gamboa each had 3-pointers to key a 10-2 run for Bloomington, which led 14-10 with four minutes left in the opening quarter. Sonora followed with runs of 8-5 and 18-7 to take the lead for good.
WEDNESDAY’S CIF-SS PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
No. 1 Sonora 82, Bloomington 35
No. 13 Pioneer 70, Pacifica/Garden Grove 55
No. 13 Whittir Chr. 50, 29 Palms 44
No. 2 Campbell Hall 73, St. Paul 29
GIRLS WATER POLO
La Serna 11, Palos Verdes 10, OT
Santiago/Corona 16, La Habra 4
Harvard-Westlake 14, California 7