Sedona Red Rock High School’s girls basketball team is rolling through its opponents so far this season.
It improved to 9-0 after its 58-27 win over visiting Payson High School on Dec. 14.
“Our motto is run and gun and always push the ball and wear the other team down,” Scorpion freshman guard Mary Westervelt said. “So that once they get tired we can keep pushing and pushing and get ahead.”
Eight of the team’s nine victories have come by a margin of at least 26 points, and has averaged 63 points per game. The Scorpions create numerous scoring opportunities by playing an active, high-pressure, full-court defense that forces opponents into throwing poor passes, shooting contested shots and committing traveling and 10-second violations.
Red Rock normally shoots a lot of three-point shots, but on this occasion it kept the ball on the floor to score the majority of its points, despite playing against a taller Payson team.
Senior forward Hannah Ringel opened the scoring on the first possession of the game, receiving a pass from Westervelt down low for an easy finish off the glass. On the next play Ringel tacked on a free throw, and on the ensuing possession Longhorn senior forward Sadie Sweeney scored to bring the Longhorns within one.
It was the closest they would get to Red Rock.
The Scorpions imposed their style of play on Payson, opening a 16-4 lead after the first quarter.
“I think we were pretty aggressive and running the floor pretty well,” Scorpion freshman guard Jackie King said. “Even though they were fouling us I think we still did a good job coming out and scoring points.”
Red Rock never took its foot off the gas, but at the same time struggled to finish many of the opportunities it created.
“We’ll have to go back to the finishing school drills that we run in practice and get better at that,” head coach Dave Moncibaez said. “Payson was physical though, they were contesting pretty much every layup that we had, so that was a bit of a factor, but we still need to finish those.”
By halftime the lead swelled to 32-10. Even when substitutes checked into the game, they matched the tempo and intensity set by the starters.
Red Rock shot six of 14 from the free throw line.
“[It was] one of those nights where we were off,” Moncibaez said. “We didn’t really shoot that many threes, it was an off night. Fortunately even on an off night we did okay against a taller Payson team.”
After three quarters, the Scorpions led 47-19. The Longhorns saw plenty of shooting opportunities down the stretch, but like Red Rock, struggled shooting.
Despite what the scoreboard read, Payson played physically throughout, including an intentional foul on Westervelt in the third quarter.
“This game was really frustrating with the fouls,” Westervelt said. “And I think that really got to me in my layups and finishing.”
So far this season, the Scorpions have taken advantage of their lopsided games to prepare for the latter part of the season.
“Get better as a team, our long term goal is to win state,” King said. “So playing these other teams is helping us come together more and playing better together.”
Scorpion junior guard Liza Westervelt led all scorers with 16 points while senior forward Sophia Perry contributed 12. Longhorn junior forward Kylee O’Donald finished with nine to lead the visitors.
Red Rock plays Friday, Dec. 16, at 5:30 p.m. at Joy Christian High School. Its next home game is the 2A Central Section opener on Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 5:30 p.m. against Paradise Honors High School.