Sports Stories

As the search continues for a Sedona Red Rock High School boys basketball coaching staff, the girls hoops coaches are doing what they can to keep all Scorpions in the game.

SRRHS head girls basketball coach Dave Moncibaez is the director of the Scorpions Summer Basketball Camp, which begins Friday, Aug. 12, in Doc Adams Gym following the conclusion of Scorpions volleyball practice, at about 6 p.m.

“The girls program was wanting to have a basketball camp a couple days a week for the next three months,” Moncibaez said. “Our coaching staff is very excited for anyone that is interested to participate in this camp ... and more than willing to offer this opportunity for the boys, too.”

Assistant girls coaches Jeff Fritz, Art Moncibaez, Stephanie Tomlinson and Kirk Westervelt will help Dave Moncibaez conduct drills in shooting, ball-handling, conditioning, plyometrics and other skill development continuing Saturday, Aug. 13, from 10 a.m. to noon.

“We cannot help kids if they’re not in here,” Westervelt said. “We’ll not make them come in here, but we’ll make them better players.”

The camp will follow the same schedule through all Fridays and Saturdays in the fall until its conclusion Saturday, Oct. 29 — one month prior to the start of the season.

“One thing, at least, we’ve got both gyms,” Westervelt said. “We’ll mix it up.”

In the wake of the July 26 departure of head boys coach C.J. Sells and his son and assistant coach, Michael, Moncibaez and assistant coach Kirk Westervelt agreed that there was concern among parents of boys basketball players about off-season opportunities in the sport.

Lack of player participation in those opportunities was the driving factor behind the resignation of Sells, the most successful coach in program history.

“We were having open gyms a couple days a week, pretty much every week during the summer,” Sells said. “At our end-of-year barbecue, we told parents we needed three weekends in June to put in another offense and another defense.

“We gave them the dates. They had months to prepare. But how are we going to do that with just three or four players?”

Freshman Jackson Coughlin has summer experience under his belt, and sophomore Chase Saczalski not only played with Sells’ summer teams in June but with his Phoenix club team, AZ Power, at a tournament last month in Las Vegas.

Westervelt and fellow volunteer assistant coach Mauro Trahin Jr., last year’s West Sedona School boys basketball head coach, have been working with him continuously, with only 60-second water breaks allowed between five-minute, multi-purpose drills.

“In the game, all you’re going to get is a 60-second break,” Trahin said. “So we just keep it moving. You can’t just sit here and just hit shots.”

They prepare players to catch and shoot the basketball, keep it above their shoulders when passing and rebounding, dribble through heavy defensive traffic and finish at the hoop through contact, among other higher-level basketball skills.

“Honestly, I don’t have a name for most of the drills I do,” Trahin said. “If it’s useful in a game, it’s going to work.”

Saczalski not only played on the June teams, he played with Sells’ AZ Power Team in July at tournaments in Las Vegas. He credits the experience for building his basketball IQ, both defensively and offensively.

But he has been back in the gym building his upper body in conditioning as well as shooting drills.

So has junior Joanne Toscano, a part-time starting guard last season for the girls, who is “working hard daily,” in her words, to develop a quicker rotation and higher arch on her shot.

“I think she’s got one of the best shots in the state, form-wise,” Westervelt said. “We want to try to get more kids with her mindset to come in here and give us two hours of both volleyball and basketball.”

The Scorpions clinic coaches said they hope that more experienced returners from last season join them — namely, seniors Keagan Cordova, Walker Cox and Dawson Stevenson, juniors Hayden Bruce, Winston Cox and Charlie Parrella and sophomore Hunter Wright.

“We’ve got every kid, other than Wyatt Stevenson, back,” Westervelt said. “I’m not their coach, but I feel for them. Any coach would.

“If it just so happens we end up running the boys varsity program, so be it.”

They would form a solid six against a girls core, including Toscano, coming off a February state Final Four appearance — senior forwards Sophia Perry and Hannah Ringel, senior guard Xan Hawes, junior guard Liza Westervelt and junior forward Chenoa Crans.

“The girls should contend for State,” said Kirk Westervelt, Liza’s father and former Big Park Community School head girls basketball coach. “We need to instill a toughness mentality with the SRRHS program — something we had at Big Park for the last five years.”

Kirk Westervelt’s daughter, Mary, and Fritz’s daughter, Morgan, would join forwards Grace Hafner, Jacki King and Odalis Robles as incoming freshmen looking to improve enough to crack the varsity rotation in girls workouts.

“I told them, ‘Put those five out there, we could win our conference,” Kirk Westervelt said. “Mauro and I are not on the payroll for Red Rock High School: This is volunteer. Boys or girls, it doesn’t matter. We’re here for basketball.”

Trahin and Westervelt have one common goal, they said: Putting up championship banners on the walls of Doc Adams Gym.

“Most of all, I care about these kids because there’s a couple with talent and skill that are out at parties doing stuff they shouldn’t be,” Trahin said. “I’d rather see kids in here improving their lives. If they’re here, I’m going to help them. They’ve just got to communicate.”

For more information on the Scorpions Summer Basketball Camp, please see the Friday, Aug. 12, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.