High school basketball teams typically spend the month of June practicing and playing together before players return to their clubs. Nonetheless the Sedona Red Rock High School boys team hosted a four-team tournament on Saturday and Sunday, July 15 and 16, taking second place.
The Scorpions went 3-2 on the weekend, both losses coming to Verde Valley rival Mingus Union High School, the second a 57-51 loss in the championship game.
“I think the kids played hard, they beat the teams they’re supposed to beat and played hard against Mingus,” Scorpions assistant coach Jason Bruce said.
While the two teams do not play come winter during the regular season, they played high-energy, competitive games.
In the championship game on July 16, the Scorpions trailed 33-23 at halftime. They got as close as 54-48, but the Marauders grabbed a few transition layups to put it out of reach with just under a minute left.
Senior Wyatt Gregson was named MVP for the Scorpions, who finished with 51 points throughout the weekend. Mingus senior Michael Bryan was the Marauders’ MVP.
Another player who stood out, mostly on the offensive boards, was senior Cole Edens. Bruce said that he has a knack for the ball, and head coach Paul Bain recently said that he has been in the best shape of anyone this summer.
Red Rock tried to play its high-tempo, pressure defense to trap the ball and force turnovers, but struggled to do so consistently. Not being in the gym every day combined with playing multiple games wore the Scorpions down, a typical struggle during summer ball.
The first loss to the Marauders came by a 58-41 scoreline despite leading 19-16 at halftime.
“I think the players were a little tired, because of summertime and not having a lot of practice time,” Bruce said. “We let Mingus dictate the tempo of play and we just got out of sorts.”
On July 15, the Scorpions beat 3A Tuba City High School 65-33. It was never close as the Scorpions jumped out to 20-2 and 42-16 leads.
But in the semifinal earlier in the day on July 16, the team squeezed out a 59-58 win against the Warriors. Two seniors came down for the Sunday games, one of whom made a huge difference, according to Bruce.
For the win, senior Hayden Bruce stole the ball and found Gregson down court for a layup. Bruce made the game-clinching steal with almost no time left.
Once the team is at full strength and the season is in full swing, Bruce expects things to go well.
“Even being small and young we’re going to be able to pressure teams in [Conference] 2A,” Bruce said. “We’ll be a very strong defensive team, we just have to get the offense going and play smart.”
The Scorpions also beat 1A Ash Fork High School 53-17 on July 15, allowing their opponent to score just three points in the second half.
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