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The Sedona Red Rock High boys basketball team lost to Parker High 77-68 on Tuesday, Jan. 9, and to Fountain Hills High 86-57 on Thursday, Jan. 11, before defeating Chino Valley High 52-42 on Saturday, Jan. 13.
By Nick Ruland
Larson Newspapers
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The Sedona Red Rock High boys basketball team lost to Parker High 77-68 on Tuesday, Jan. 9, and to Fountain Hills High 86-57 on Thursday, Jan. 11, before defeating Chino Valley High 52-42 on Saturday, Jan. 13.

Sedona played Fountain Hills in front of the largest home crowd of the year.

Much like last year, the boys jumped out on the perennial power, gaining a 7-2 lead.

Michael Krajnak provided the firepower early and often. Krajnak turned penetration into playmaking, finding freshman phenom Kevin Cox underneath for two early baskets.

Cox returned the favor, hooking up with Krajnak on a classic give-and-go midway through the first quarter.

Head Coach Mike Krajnak even utilized his son in clear-the-court isolations. Michael Krajnak delivered with craft and quickness, contorting long limbs in an upward coordination for two points late in the frame.

Sedona led 18-16 after the first quarter and 23-18 early in the second quarter after Luke Dumyahn knocked down a three-point shot.

The game changed on a five-point play for Fountain Hills.

A made shot and missed foul shot turned into three more made free throws off two offensive rebounds, evening the score at 23 and changing the tide of the game.

More disappointment struck when Matt Nazarian went down with a sprained ankle after playing some of his most aggressive ball of the year with four early rebounds and numerous powerful post-ups.

Without Nazarian and Ethan Wright, who quit the team in December, Sedona was down to seven players.

Plausibly, the injury took a psychological toll.

In devastating combination with the Nazarian loss was the full-court pressure applied against Sedona that forced an endless flow of turnovers starting midway through the second quarter.

Fountain Hills went on a 70-39 run after the first quarter to close out a blowout.

FHHS ran Sedona out of the gym, dunking the ball late in the fourth quarter as a finale.

“The pressure hurt us. We are young. Hopefully we won’t be young next year. We understand after that game what it is going to take to play at higher level,” Coach Krajnak said.

Cox and Luke Dumyahn were bright spots for SRRHS, contributing 15 points apiece to go along with Krajnak’s customary 20-point production.

On Saturday, the Sedona contingent had trouble filling half of the bleachers. Chino Valley fans made more noise with nearly the same amount of spectators.

The lack of home court advantage did not phase the Scorpions.

Again, Sedona jumped out to a 7-0 lead. This time it was Cox taking a steal all the way back for an easy layup.

Sedona’s defensive intensity was visible.

The same press that embarrassed the Scorpions two nights previous had been flipped around.

The Scorpions used a series of stifling stops and pesky steals to score on offense in semi-transition.

A balanced offense attacked Chino Valley before it could get set.

Dumyahn continued to flick his hot shooting wrist, connecting on two first-half threes. Krajnak did his normal “I am unstoppable” routine, driving into the painted land for a bombardment of baskets.

Even Stephen Byrnes contributed with two baseline three-point makes.

A more confident Byrnes was less weary of the turnover and more proactive in the pursuit of playmaking passes against Chino. Without an assist, Byrnes had only two turnovers.

“He is gaining more confidence. He looked to shoot the ball more because he is a good shooter,” Mike Krajnak said.

Sedona opened up a 32-17 lead at halftime. With a short bench, Sedona’s spark had vanished after halftime. SRRHS scored only five third-quarter points, which gave CVHS a window of opportunity.

Chino narrowed the lead to 39-36 three minutes into the fourth quarter.

Dumyahn re-stole the momentum with a three pointer off the press. Dumyahn scored five consecutive points to seal the win and 19 in the game as the most valuable performer.

“He really stepped up and carried us down the stretch,” Krajnak said.

Sedona cut down its turnovers from 25 in the Fountain Hills game to 18 against Chino.

The 20-turnover mark has been the key number in deciding outcomes for Sedona.

Michael Krajnak had 16 points and six assists and Dumyahn picked up Nazarian’s slack on the boards with 10.

Sedona will move Pedro Ortega Jr. up to the varsity level.

Nazarian could come back Thursday at home against Wickenburg High, though it is more likely he will return on the road against River Valley on Saturday.

Alex Stefanovich is the lone remaining senior on the team.

“I am the last one standing. We need to make sure we raise our intensity in the third and fourth quarters and take care of the ball,” Stefanovich said.

The boys are 2-3 in conference.

Girls beat Chino Valley

The Sedona Red Rock High girls basketball team went on the road and lost to Fountain Hills High 54-41 on Saturday, Jan. 11, and then defeated Chino Valley High 56-41 on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

Courtney Fitzpatrick continued her scoring streak with 21 points against CVHS. Eight came in the decisive fourth quarter. Danny Jovanovich added 14 points in the victory and six in the fourth quarter.

“We started pass faking against the press and started          taking it to the rims strong in the fourth quarter,” Head Coach Bob Murphy said.

The girls could not close out the Fountain Hills game though they did narrow FHHS’ lead to four points in the second half.

The Scorpions are 3-2 in the conference and will travel to Wickenburg on Thursday before returning home against Chino Valley on Saturday.

“We are in a good spot. The girls have figured out with Parker [win] that it’s not a fluke. We are a team that you can’t figure out,” Murphy said.


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