Rivalry games add an extra bit of emotion, nerves and white-knuckled desire to win, and at times those factors sway the outcome.
In the game between Sedona Red Rock and Camp Verde high schools, however, it didn’t have the slightest effect.
The Scorpions [18-0, 3-0] grabbed a 50-19 victory on the road against the Cowboys on Jan. 10.
“We’ve been playing Camp Verde since my freshman year, and it’s just been like a very stressful game, so it always feels great to win especially as a senior,” Red Rock senior forward Sophia Perry said. “I’ve known a lot of the girls since middle school, and we lost to the them last year at the beginning of the season and it stung, and so it feels good to win.”
Even though rivalry games have a different feel, Red Rock played just the same as it has all season.
It opened a sizeable lead early on, and forced turnovers that led to points; nine of its first-quarter points came from turnovers, opening a 17-8 lead.
“We always want to get out to a big lead with anybody that we’re with, but Camp Verde especially,” Scorpion head coach Dave Moncibaez said. “Because they’re a tough team, they play great defense regardless of the type of team [Cowboy head coach] Mark [Showers] has, he always comes out tough defensively.”
Camp Verde did lead 2-0 and trailed only 7-4 early on, but Red Rock’s defense eventually got to the Cowboys’ young
ballhandlers. It forced nine turnovers in the first eight minutes.
When the Scorpions did not score on the fast break, they were mostly efficient in the half-court game. They shot 16 for 32 from the field, but only three for 14 from three-point range.
Their biggest concern throughout the season has been with turnovers of their own. Against the Cowboys they had 14, four more than the maximum of 10 they set as a goal.
“That’s our main problem against most teams, that’s how they get most of their points...,” junior guard Chenoa Crans said.
Moncibaez added that his team is finding the balance between pushing the ball and recognizing when not to.
“Sometimes we still have that problem where we’re too much in a hurry,” he said. “All in all it’s getting better, but at the same time we want to make sure that our points per possession are at a higher percentage than what they are right now.”
Defensively, Red Rock was aware of the Cowboys’ two strengths: Size and shooting. Perry said she knew six-foot Cowboy freshman center Jacy Finley would be a factor, but that her inexperience meant that mistakes would be made. Crans and the Scorpions had also made plans to limit their shooters.
“We knew to take out the tall girl, which I think we did pretty well,” Crans said. “And we knew they had pretty good shooters so we had a technique as to how to shut down the shooters.”
Another 8-0 run to open the second swelled the Scorpions’ lead, but an accumulation of fouls from the early going allowed Camp Verde to shoot three for five from the free throw line.
The Scorpions’ other goal is to shoot 50 percent or better on their free throws; they shot seven for 14.
Red Rock led 30-14 at halftime; 15 forced turnovers led to half of those points.
Cowboy freshman guard Tanna Decker opened the third with a three-pointer that got the crowd going, and they did reduce their turnovers while increasing their number of shots. But a two-for-17 clip from the field let them down, and the Scorpions used another 16-2 run to close out the third for a 46-19 lead.
Substitutes for both sides rounded out the game with a 4-0 fourth quarter in favor Red Rock.
“I’m really happy with where we are this season. We really worked hard during Christmas break and I think that really gave us that extra edge,” Perry said. “I think conditionally we’re there and I think we’re really working more cohesively as a team, so I think we’re right where we need to be at this part of the season.”
Perry had a game-high 16 points while Crans had 12 and freshman guard Mary Westervelt 10 to round out double-digit scorers. Decker led the Cowboys with eight.
Red Rock next plays at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at home against Northland Preparatory Academy.