All season long, the Sedona Red Rock High School girls basketball team relied on creating significant scoring runs, especially early in the game, to grab sizeable leads.
But in the semifinals of the 2017 Arizona Interscholastic Association 2A State Championship, the Scorpions never mustered one of those signature stretches, falling 63-47 to No. 2 seed Leading Edge Academy.
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The sixth-seeded Scorpions [29-2, 10-0 2A Central] struggled offensively and gave up a 16-2 second-quarter scoring run en route to a 34-18 halftime deficit. Missed chances in close were a thorn in their side the whole game; they shot 16 for 56.
“We missed a lot of layups, wide-open layups, and those layups definitely could have led to runs for us, and we just couldn’t get a run,” Scorpions head coach Dave Moncibaez said. “I can’t remember the last time that we played that we didn’t have any type of run. We made a little bit of one in the third quarter, but not like normal.”
For the second straight year, Red Rock made it to the semifinals of the state tournament as the sixth seed, but faced the same outcome, falling to the second seed.
Eleven second-quarter turnovers crippled the Scorpions’ offense; they shot just two for 10, a low amount of attempts for a team that likes to push the pace.
Red Rock senior forward Sophia Perry sat out most of the quarter, which, in Moncibaez’s opinion, hindered the team more offensively than defensively.
“I think for some reason our offense changed a little bit in regards to confidence,” Moncibaez said. “That’s all it was, she [Perry] wasn’t in, for some reason they felt like they weren’t confident ... but nothing was going in for us at all.”
Thirteen of the Spartans’ points during the lopsided run came either by finishes at the rim or free throws earned inside.
Coming into the game, Moncibaez liked his team’s matchup with a bigger and taller Spartans team. Their size proved difficult for the Scorpions to contain in one-on-one situations.
“I think that if they wouldn’t have been physical on the inside, they wouldn’t have even been close to winning the game,” Ringel said. “We’re not used to dealing with big posts that are really aggressive, so it kind of threw everyone off.”
The Leading Edge ballhandlers were able to navigate Red Rock’s full-court zone as well, preventing it from creating
turnovers and running the floor.
But the Scorpions did start the game off on the front foot, going up 6-2 behind buckets from Perry and Ringel.
Leading Edge struck back, taking advantage of missed layups to pull even at seven, but Red Rock responded with five more points.
“I just don’t think it was our day, I don’t think it was nerves as much ‘cause we were all pretty pumped to go out there,” junior guard Chenoa Crans said. “I think it was just a hard shooting day for all of us.”
Spartans junior forward Prima Chellis scored at the hoop to open a 15-13 lead at the end of the first. Chellis and fellow junior forward Ariana Clavell were productive at both ends of the floor, blocking a multitude of Scorpions’ shots while combining for 30 points.
In the third quarter, Red Rock matched its offensive output from the entire first half. Perry returned to the floor and so did a stronger Scorpions offense, but the hole was already too deep.
Leading Edge allowed Red Rock to come as close as 11 points after a triple by junior sixth man Jo Toscano, but when the Scorpions scored a couple of baskets, the Spartans responded with their own. The final quarter was much the same.
Red Rock loses two pillars of its team from this season in Ringel and Perry, who scored 16 and six points, respectively.
“I still think it was a great season, especially with our seniors that we have,” Crans said. “It was just hard losing because of the seniors that we have and that they’re so important to the team.”
“I think we had an awesome season, I’m definitely proud of what the team accomplished,” Ringel said. “I’m definitely going to miss playing with everyone.”