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Kirk Westervelt wants to be a long-term solution in local boys basketball like he has been for the girls.


“I want to be a solution to a problem and not a short-term fix,” said Westervelt, who was named Tuesday, Sept. 13, to replace C.J. Sells as the new Sedona Red Rock High School head boys basketball coach. “There has been too much negativity within our system the last year, and we can bring positive change to SRRHS.”

Assistant coach Mauro Trahin Jr., the last boys basketball head coach at West Sedona School, will coach the junior varsity.

“I’ve told those 11 players we’ve had every day for the last four weeks, there’s only two guaranteed positions: My job as a head coach and Mauro with JV,” said Westervelt. He is wrapping up a six-week USA Basketball workout regimen with them in the SRRHS gym and weight room. “I bring my people.”

Those people will include, on occasion, former University of Oregon guard Paul Bain and shooting coach Paul Hoover.

“The kids will have fun, but they will work hard,” Westervelt said. “It’s not like the pros, where it’s a drudgery playing every other night. These kids aren’t going to be walking out at halftime with their heads down.”

Two football players, senior Chas Rescigno and junior Tony Vandezor, have already committed to workouts at least twice a week, two hours each night.

“Some four times,” Westervelt said. “We need to be a highly-disciplined team that strives to be uncommon, not average. We need to play with a sense of urgency.”

Joining them have been eight returning players from Sells’ final team: Senior point guard Randy Rodriguez, junior guards Hayden Bruce and Michael Ortega, senior forwards Keagan Cordova, Dawson Stevenson and Walker Cox, and his younger brother, Winston, with fellow junior Wyatt Gregson.

“I’m not walking into an empty cupboard,” Westervelt said. “No one’s going to be scoring 40, 50 [points] a game for us, but I’m going to have five guys that should be averaging about 15.”

What will take time to teach is discipline, he added, and passing — truly unselfish team basketball.

“It’s going to take about three months to get these guys into the mindset: Yes, they can compete every game,” Westervelt said. “They don’t cheat the drills. Throwing a jersey in a coach’s face: It will not fly.”

What will fly on Westervelt’s court are defenders, from baseline to baseline.

“They will get after it,” he said. “If you wear out, I’ve got guys on the bench who want to play. There’s going to be a different intensity when that ball gets thrown up.”

Coaching, Westervelt added, will be the easy part, even though he plans to split boys skill sessions with SRRHS girls basketball head coach Dave Moncibaez.

“I’m still on the girls bench; the games are all on the same day,” Westervelt said. “My daughter, Liza, will be in practice with the boys.”

SRRHS principal Darren Karuzas coached with Westervelt and their oldest daughters a decade ago in the American Youth Soccer Organization.

“His record, ethics and values he’ll teach the kids speaks for itself,” Karuzas said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

While Westervelt doesn’t guarantee wins, he does guarantee a team on the floor that will play hard to the last second of every game.

“If I put my face on the program, we will do things my way,” he added. “Starting with their behavior off the court. Academics come first.

“However, the game is about the players, not me. Great players need to have the humility and hunger to receive coaching.”

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