Sedona Red Rock High School girls basketball head coach Dave Moncibaez had some words that would be qualified as nothing short of curious after its 60-26 win over visiting Paradise Honors High School on Jan. 3.
“I feel like we were a little rusty and slow to the ball.”
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But the fact of the matter is that the Scorpions, who improved to 15-0 in their 2A Central Section debut, took the floor just four days after having won the Prescott Lady Badgers Winter Classic, and for what it is worth, failed to reach its season average of 62 points.
Moncibaez did show his satisfaction with the team at this juncture of the season.
“Coming off of a tournament like that and a few days rest I kind of anticipated them begin a little bit rusty,” Moncibaez said. “But we can cure that once we play again and getting back into the gym and practicing, so I’m pretty confident in where we’re at right now.”
The Scorpions opened the game in what has become, for the most part, typical fashion, with a scoring run that put its opponent in a hole early. A 2-2-1 full-court zone defense puts tremendous pressure on opposing ballhandlers and feeds the Red Rock offense.
Nine forced turnovers resulted in at least 10 of 24 first quarter points, the majority of which scored on the fast break by senior forward Hannah Ringel, who put in 11 in the quarter to help build a 24-2 lead.
“We’ve been playing more ball pressure on defense and starting to finish our easy ones and running our set plays through, so in that aspect we’re executing there,” Moncibaez said.
When the Scorpions did not score in transition, they ran set plays for open looks for their perimeter threats in junior guards Chenoa Crans and Liza Westervelt.
And then if those shots did not fall, more often than not Ringel and fellow senior forward Sophia Perry were there to clean up.
“In the tournament I had a lot of girls hitting me every time I shot, so I’m kind of used to being bumped as I’m going up for shots,” Ringel said. “And today I wasn’t getting bumped as much so it was easier.”
The second quarter started off the same as the first, with Westervelt collecting a steal and layup before her sister, freshman guard Mary Westervelt, and Perry netted five more points. The Scorpion substitutes finished out the quarter and led 39-18 at the break.
The starters pitched a 14-0 third quarter shutout.
The fourth quarter was all for the substitutes, who between both even-numbered quarters saw good play from junior sixth-man Jo Toscano, playing her fifth game since injuring her ankle against Anthem Preparatory Academy on Dec. 12, Morgan Fritz and Julia Koss.
“It’s really important trying to get them all comfortable in their roles so when they go in we don’t really miss a beat,” Moncibaez said. “Because that’s what we want to do is have them go in in a position that they’re comfortable in.”
Red Rock, No. 7 in Division 2A as of Jan. 4, had a few goals going into the game.
“Out of this game we pretty much just wanted to have a chance to run over plays and kind of perfect our offense and defense, and try and not have as many [turnovers] as we normally do,” Ringel said.
Moncibaez said his team wants to commit 10 or fewer turnovers and make 50 percent or more of their free throws; they committed 14 turnovers and shot 42 percent from the stripe.
“We feel definitely pumped because it hasn’t ever happened here, two tournaments, winning it all and being undefeated for as long,” Toscano said.
Moncibaez said he wants his team to keep its sights set firmly on the task at hand.
“Our ultimate goal is to get to state but still we have to take it one game at a time,” Moncibaez said. “Whoever we’re playing, just always be ready and don’t take anybody lightly.”
Aside from Ringel’s 19 points, Perry and Liza Westervelt rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12 and 10, respectively.
Red Rock continued section play against Mingus Mountain Academy on Jan. 5, but results were not available at press time. It next plays at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 6 at Chino Valley High School in a nonconference game.