The Sedona Red Rock High School girls basketball team captured the fifth annual Sedona Shootout with a 55-54 win over Tuba City High School in the final on Saturday, Dec. 10.
Junior guard Liza Westervelt hit the game-winning three-pointer with seven seconds remaining, then made the game-clinching steal on the ensuing play.
“Tuba City was our first test of the season and obviously beating them is a good feeling,” Scorpion head coach Dave Moncibaez said. “It was hard but the girls really pulled through and we executed some plays ... and in tough games like that you do have to come up big.”
Red Rock ran five of their six opponents off the court, with an average margin of victory of 48 points in their first five games.
The Scorpions opened group play on Thursday, Dec. 8 with a 69-28 domination of Pinon High School, jumping out to an 8-0 lead and never looking back.
By the end of the quarter, the Scorpions’ lead swelled to 18-6, but it could have been even larger were it not for poor finishing and free throw shooting.
“I give a little bit of first-game jitters for that first game, but after that it should all be out of their system hopefully,” Moncibaez said.
Red Rock led 48-11 at the break, ultimately defeating the Eagles 69-28. In the Scorpions’ second matchup of the day, they defeated Red Mesa High School 71-37.
On Friday, Red Rock played back to back games, first taking on Cibecue High School, where they defeated the Wildcats 49-23.
In the second game, the Scorpions routed the Northland Preparatory Academy Spartans 58-9. The substitutes for Red Rock played three quarters of the game, and junior guard Jo Toscano put in 18 points to lead the way.
Red Rock was scheduled to play against the Spartans a second time just hours later, but the game was forfeited.
On Saturday the Scorpions played Pinon for a second time.
With the score 12-3 in favor of Red Rock in the first quarter, Pinon scored five straight points to make things interesting at 12-8.
Red Rock rattled off a 26-3 scoring run that spanned close to eight minutes that swelled the lead to 38-11. At halftime, the Scorpions led 40-20, but the lead could have been larger were it not for more problems at the free throw line. They shot three for 14.
“It’s usually not a big problem,” junior guard Chenoa Crans said. “Just the pressure of the game for a lot of our the team. It’s different in practice when we’re not actually as tired as we are in the games.”
Even though they had a comfortable lead and their sights set on a championship game to play later in the day, Red Rock continued running the floor hard.
Being that it was an early season tournament, according to Crans, the team still needed to work on conditioning.
In the final, it appeared Red Rock would once again impose their pace on their opponent. They opened a
29-15 halftime lead by way of high-pressure defense and dominating rebounding against Tuba City.
“Definitely I think our size may have intimidated them and they weren’t really sure how to guard us,” senior forward Sophia Perry said.
“Rebounding was really important, especially for the posts, because that’s how we got all of our points today,” senior forward Hannah Ringel said.
Coming out of halftime, Tuba City began a comeback. After shooting four-for-18 in the first half, the Warriors cut the lead to seven at 42-35 at the end of the third, receiving help from numerous turnovers committed by Red Rock.
“I think it was a bit of a wake-up call playing another team at our level,” Perry said. “We started to play their game and not play our game in the second half and I think that hurt us.”
Three minutes into the fourth Tuba City took its first lead at 44-42.
At 54-52, Warrior guard Autumn Byjoe missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving the ball back to Red Rock with 16 seconds left.
Westervelt brought the ball up court and hit the game-winning three from straight on with seven seconds left. She averaged 15 points per game in the tournament.
“I thought there was three seconds left on the clock if I’m going be honest,” Westervelt said. “And I thought, ‘Well I’m open so I’ll shoot it.’”
Moncibaez said he was proud and happy for his team, but that there is more work to do.
“I think toward the end we were starting to get a little tired and that’s what gave them momentum. That goes into that part where we just need to be better in shape because mistakes happen when we get tired.”
On Monday, Dec. 12, the Scorpions defeated visiting Anthem Preparatory Academy, 71-32.
They next take the floor at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, when they host Payson High School.