The Sedona Red Rock High School basketball teams split their games at Glendale Preparatory Academy on Jan. 17.
The girls [20-0, 5-0] continued their tear through the 2A Central Section with a 57-29 win while the boys [14-7, 3-1] lost 57-55 in overtime. The boys are now tied for first place in the section with Northland Preparatory Academy, who beat Camp Verde High School 53-37, but holds the tiebreaker after its head-to-head win against the Spartans on Jan. 13.
The boys team fell into a big hole in the first quarter, 16-0, and “it was a mountain climb the whole way back,” head coach Kirk Westervelt said.
In the semifinal of the Joy Christian Winter Start Tournament on Dec. 21, the Scorpions blew out the Griffins, 63-30.
“It was a trap game,” Westervelt said. “I warned them beforehand ... you can’t beat someone and expect them to bow down to you.”
The Griffins made their first four three-pointers, according to Westervelt, en route to the big lead. By halftime the team brought the deficit to 12, and in the fourth quarter to a single digit.
Down two with seven seconds left, the Scorpions took a timeout and drew up a backdoor play off an inbound pass for senior forward Dawson Stevenson. Stevenson sank the shot with three seconds left, forcing overtime.
Red Rock led by four with 2:20 left in overtime, but a 6-0 run plucked the comeback out of its hands.
After working hard to erase the deficit, Westervelt believes that the Scorpions, who also saw limited minutes from sophomore guard Chase Saczalski, ran out of gas. Saczalski, in a bit of Friday the 13th bad luck, injured his ankle in the fourth quarter of Red Rock’s win against Northland Prep.
“We played good to get back in it, most other teams would have gotten blown out,” Westervelt said. “I’m proud of their effort.”
The Scorpions amassed a multitude of turnovers; 14 by halftime and at least 20 in total. Junior forward Wyatt Gregson led with 18 points.
The Scorpions begin the second round of section play at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20 at Paradise Honors High School. On Jan. 3 Red Rock beat the Panthers 49-42. It then hosts Division 3 Wickenburg High School at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21.
The girls team rounded out the first round of section play with another one-sided victory, 57-29, but according to head coach Dave Moncibaez, the game had a much different feel.
“It was just one of those games where you play, you look at the scoreboard and you feel like you barely beat them,” Moncibaez said. “Our legs weren’t going as quickly as normal.”
After the first quarter the Scorpions led 10-7, but by halftime the lead grew to 30-17.
The team committed a number of turnovers, a nagging problem throughout the season. In the second quarter the Scorpions also got into foul trouble; senior forward Sophia Perry was carrying three and junior guard Liza Westervelt two.
But in the third quarter, Red Rock began to return to normal.
“We got through that [foul trouble], and our shots started going,” Moncibaez said. “Our legs got going in the second half and we pulled away.”
Westervelt led with 32 points. At the completion of the first round of section play, the team has scored the most points and given up the fewest: 274 points in favor and 96 against for a 178-point differential. The next closest differential is 74 points, held by Verde Valley rival and second place Camp Verde.
The team returns to play at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, at Paradise Honors High School in the first game of the second round of section play. In their first matchup on Jan. 3, the Scorpions defeated the Panthers 60-26. At 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, they will take on visiting Wickenburg High School.