Despite having won its first Verde Valley rivalry game of the season, 67-38, at Camp Verde High School on Jan. 10, the Sedona Red Rock High School boys basketball team could have done even better.
After a disappointing 57-56 loss to Prescott High School on Jan. 7, the Scorpions [13-6, 2-0] bounced back with a win, but according to head coach Kirk Westervelt, only played with the right intensity in the second half.
“We just have to get back to our selves,” senior forward Dawson Stevenson said. “We’re just tired and just not in it, especially the first half. If we played like we did the second half we could have generated a ton.”
Red Rock led 11-6 after the first, but did not score until almost halfway through the quarter from a senior guard Randy Rodriguez three-pointer. A back-and-forth second saw the Scorpions repeat their defensive effort, using a full-court zone defense to force turnovers and generate offense, but only managed four first-half points off of them.
“That’s what we have to do to succeed further in playoffs and beat other teams,” Rodriguez said.
In the halfcourt, Red Rock tried to find the right shot and limit its turnovers, but still finished in double-digits.
“Just moving the ball, you got to have a lot more ball movement, which we’ve been working on and it’s been helping our play,” Stevenson said. “We still could have done better [with turnovers], that’s another thing with ball movement and patience.”
The Scorpions led 23-12 at halftime.
Four points each from junior forward Winston Cox and junior guard Michael Ortega fueled an 8-0 scoring run to open a high-scoring third quarter.
Westervelt pointed out the physical nature of the game, and that his team needed to match Camp Verde’s intensity in the second half.
“We came in the locker room and I said ‘You know what to do, you have to exhibit it, match their physicality and don’t back down.’ And you know what? They did a pretty good job,” Westervelt said.
The Cowboys’ poor shooting, six of 18 from the paint and three for 22 from range, lent a hand to the Scorpions’ defensive effort.
Red Rock led 49-30 after three. Red Rock won the fourth, 20-8, from balanced scoring and the Cowboys getting four free throws and two buckets in the fourth.
“Our defense is always there,” Westervelt said. “Anytime you hold any team under 40 it’s pretty good [defense].”
Stevenson led with 17 points, sophomore guard Chase Saczalski had 16 and Cox had 14. Senior guard Aaron Tracy led the Cowboys with 11.
Red Rock has a key game at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at home against Northland Preparatory Academy; the winner takes sole possession of first place in the 2A Central Section.