After its 58-44 first round loss in the 2017 Arizona Interscholastic Association 2A State Championship to No. 4 seed Scottsdale Christian Academy, head coach Kirk Westervelt said that the No. 13 Sedona Red Rock High School boys basketball team had to play a perfect game to pull off the upset.
It nearly did, but was not consistent on either side of the court for the whole game.
For stretches of its season-ending loss, played on Friday, Feb. 17, at Yavapai College, the team would come close to tying the game, but would then allow the Eagles to stretch their lead.
“They’re a good team, we played all right,” senior forward Dawson Stevenson said. “Mostly in the first half we played really good. Second half, fourth quarter we kind of let them do their thing.”
The Scorpions [20-10, 2A Central] committed just eight turnovers and shot 46 percent from the field, but sank one of four free throws. Scottsdale Christian had only six turnovers, shot 51 percent and made 10 of 11 free throws.
In the third quarter, Red Rock trailed by as little as three, then went down by as many as eight, and then rallied back to within four.
Two Eagles three-pointers in the early part of the fourth doubled their lead, the second of the pair starting an 11-2 scoring run to close out the game. Red Rock hit seven three-pointers in the first three quarters, but went zero for three in the fourth.
“I just think we weren’t doing our normal thing,” Red Rock junior forward Wyatt Gregson said. “We were hesitant and not passing the ball enough, we just weren’t smart enough to get the ball going.”
The Scorpions fell into a 7-0 hole at the start of the game. Coming out of a timeout junior guard Michael Ortega hit a triple and the offense began to flow, but Scottsdale Christian’s did not slow.
Gregson hit a wide-open three-pointer to cap a possession of good ball movement, but then Eagles sophomore forward Ethan Spry hit a shot. The teams exchanged buckets to arrive to a 16-10 score in favor of the Eagles at the quarter’s end.
Red Rock junior forward Winston Cox followed up junior guard Hayden Bruce’s three with a bucket to bring the deficit to 18-15. Eagles sophomore guard Reed Myers, who broke the Scorpions’ usual full-court zone and forced them into a man defense, responded with a three.
Myers was a player they wanted to slow down; he had a game-high 16 points, including three triples.
“We did to an extent. Of course he’s going to get his points, he’s a good player,” Stevenson said. “I think we did our job on him ... without him they’re not near as good.”
Then Ortega hit a three, Myers matched him and Scottsdale Christian went on to score four more points to reopen its lead to 10. But the Scorpions, who shot a perfect three for three from distance in the quarter, headed to the locker room down 32-27 by scoring 10 of the quarter’s last 14 points.
They started the third quarter on the front foot to be down four, but then gave up four more.
Another Ortega three sparked what could have been a 7-0 quarter-closing run were it not for Myers drawing a foul outside the arc and sinking all three free throws.
Scottsdale Christian missed its first two shots in the fourth, leaving the door open for Red Rock to capitalize. However the Scorpions would shoot just two for six in the quarter, falling short of the comeback.
“They were a pretty good team so I think it’s a little bittersweet,” Gregson said. “We’re just happy on the good season.”
The team graduates forwards Stevenson, Walker Cox, and Chas Rescigno as well as guard Randy Rodriguez.