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Despite a strong regular season which saw the Sedona Red Rock High girls basketball team finish 19-7 overall and claim a 3A-West region championship, going 11-1, the No. 9 Scorpions still found themselves traveling to No. 8 Window Rock High in the first round of the 3A state tournament on Friday, Feb. 20.

SRRHS-girls-b-ball-2-18The four-hour bus ride to the Arizona-New Mexico border might have been the difference in the 54-42 loss, bouncing Sedona from the state playoffs and ending its season.

“I expected to come out with a victory; we just didn’t execute when we needed to,” second-year head coach John Cunningham said.

Down 42-40 with 4:01 to go in the game, Sedona had three chances to tie the game or even take the lead from the Fighting Scouts.

Sophomore Chelsea Strong had the first of three chances, missing the front end of a 1-1 at the free throw line as Window Rock got the rebound.

Sedona then sent junior guard Ashley Lo Duca to the line on the ensuing possession and she managed to miss the front end of a 1-1 as well from the free throw line, squandering a second chance to tie the score.

Sophomore forward Miki Jovanovic grabbed the rebound off of Lo Duca’s miss and completely missed a point-blank layup as Sedona missed its third chance to tie it.

Window Rock took full advantage as its home crowd cheered them on to a 12-2 run to end the game, winning 54-42.

“Maybe things would have turned out differently if we had tied it there, but you never know,” Cunningham said.

Sedona stuck with the No. 8 team in the state for 28 of the 32 minutes, all while shooting 26 percent from the field while the Fighting Scouts shot 45 percent from the field.

“We shot horrible. You can’t win many games with a percentage like that,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham proceeded to call it one of those “we didn’t play terrible but we didn’t play well” type of games as Sedona kept it close for most of it but faltered in the end.

Perhaps the Scorpions managed to stay in it with a season-low 13 turnovers on the game, giving themselves more opportunities at shot attempts on the offensive end.

Window Rock took a 12-7 lead at the end of one quarter and then the two teams went into the locker room with the Scorpions still trailing, 28-18.

Sedona figured out some things in the third quarter and managed to cut the Fighting Scouts lead down to six, 40-34.

The Fighting Scouts used a 14-8 fourth quarter to seal the deal and move on in the state tournament as the Scorpions hung their heads in disbelief that the season was over.

“We came a long way this season. The girls have plenty to be proud of with the school’s first outright regular season region title for girls basketball,” Cunningham said.

Sedona is now 35-23 overall under the tutelage of Cunningham in his two years at the helm, including an impressive 19-5 record in the 3A-West region.

Cunningham has also taken the Scorpions to the state tournament in his two years, coming up with losses in both but none closer than this year’s game against Window Rock.

At the end of the day, Sedona’s players will be able to look at their 19-8 [11-1, 3A-West] overall record on the 2008-2009 season and be proud of what they accomplished.

With the Scorpions only losing two seniors, expect this team to be back for more next year.


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