Sports Stories

At this point in the season, every win is important for the teams at the top of the Division 2A Central Section.

The Sedona Red Rock High School boys basketball team penciled in its fourth with a 60-44 win at home in the second Verde Valley rivalry game of the season against Camp Verde on Friday, Jan. 27.

Scorpions junior Guard Michael Ortega clashes with Camp Verde High School senior forward Ryan Cain during the second Verde Valley rivalry game of the season at Sedona Red Rock High School on Friday, Jan. 27. The Scorpions prevailed 60-44 to complete the season sweep of the Cowboys.

“One thing all I asked tonight is ‘Just go out and compete,’” Scorpions head coach Kirk Westervelt said. “’I think you’re the better team, but if you don’t compete they’ll beat you.’”

The Scorpions [16-8, 4-2 2A Central] will clinch first place in the section, and its automatic bid to the 2017 Arizona Interscholastic Association State Championship, with wins in their final two regular season games.

But with Camp Verde beating Paradise Honors High School on Jan. 13, and Red Rock losing to Paradise Honors on Jan. 20, there is no lack of parity in the section.

Of late, the Scorpions have been scoring in bunches. Down 7-4 in the early going, they broke off six unanswered points and eventually led 14-13 after the first quarter.

Red Rock opened the second with an 11-3 run. Cowboys head coach Dan Wall said after the game that he and his team knew going in that the Scorpions score in bunches, and just needed to survive those waves.

Between kinks in a new offense, according to Scorpion senior forward Dawson Stevenson, and a dedication to defense by Camp Verde, it could never get any consistency on offense.

“They played hard, I tell you, Camp Verde they’re always a tough team,” Westervelt said. “They knocked us around pretty good.”

The Scorpions led 31-20 at halftime; they shot 12 for 27 in the first half, and Camp Verde hung around, shooting nine for 20.

Red Rock limited its opponents’ chances by creating turnovers, the main tinder to its offensive fire, and collecting rebounds.

“I thought our press worked really well, just our defense felt really good,” Stevenson said. “And our ball movement was really good. I’m happy with that. Rebounding, too.”

In the third, the Cowboys came within nine at 40-31, but back-to-back buckets put the Scorpions up 44-31 with eight minutes to play.

Red Rock went on one more scoring run, 13-2, to put the game out of reach at 57-36.

Junior forward Wyatt Gregson had a game-high 19 points and senior guard Randy Rodriguez 17 off the bench. The Scorpions beat Division 3A Wickenburg High School 64-52 on Saturday, Jan. 28.

They played their first of two pivotal sectional games on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Northland Preparatory Academy, the other heavy contender for the section title.

The team edged out the Spartans, 51-50, on their senior night after Gregson made two free throws with four seconds left. Sophomore guard Chase Saczalski netted three fourth-quarter triples en route to 18 points to pace the Scorpions. On Jan. 13, Red Rock defeated the Spartans 57-45.

The Scorpions round out sectional play with senior night at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3 against Glendale Preparatory Academy, then finishes the regular season at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at Division 3A Page High School.


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