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Sedona Red Rock High School’s girls basketball team fell just short of repeating as champion of its own Red Rock Hoops Classic, losing 47-41 to 5A Betty H. Fairfax High School on Saturday, Dec. 2.

Failing to capitalize in transition on the Stampede’s misses and an overall rushed offense saw the Scorpions score 20 less points than the teams’ first matchup on Friday, Dec. 1.

Scorpions sophomore forward Mary Westervelt looks to shoot against Chino Valley High School on  Nov. 28. The girls basketball team’s effort for a second straight Red Rock Hoops Classic championship fell short, losing 47-41 to 5A Betty H. Fairfax High School.
“It was a great tournament. I think we really were competitive and played a lot of good competition. All in all I’m very satisfied with the tournament,” Scorpions head coach Dave Moncibaez said. “Obviously we didn’t win it, but we definitely should have.”

Moncibaez said he wanted his team to come out of the gates swinging, to go for an early lead in the team’s sixth game in two days. However, it was Betty H. Fairfax who controlled from the early going, going up 6-2.

Scorpions senior guard Jo Toscano banked in a three-pointer, senior forward Brittany Medel scored inside and senior guard Chenoa Crans scored a transition layup to regain a 9-6 lead. After the Stampede converted an and-1 opportunity, senior guard Liza Westervelt hit a triple, initiating a battle through the rest of the first half that saw Betty H. Fairfax go up by five, only for the Scorpions to go ahead 21-20 at halftime on a Westervelt reverse layup off an inbounds play.

The first time they matched up, the Scorpions led by 14 at halftime, with the Stampede getting as close as six points in the second half. This time around, it took the lead early in the final 20 minutes and never let go.

Playing from behind, Red Rock continued pushing the pace, but forced some shots, fueling the Betty H. Fairfax offense. Westervelt hit a three to trail just 31-28. Then Stampede junior guard Ma’Kayla Dickerson rattled off eight straight points, six in transition, to open a 39-30 lead with eight minutes left.

“Talk about nothing going right at all, and it wasn’t like [Betty H. Fairfax] was causing it. I told the girls before the game, if we are to lose this game, we’re the ones that are going to beat ourselves, and that’s pretty much the truth of it all,” Moncibaez said. “Mentally we seemed exhausted. Physically we seemed OK, but we miss a couple shots and we hang our heads and it didn’t go right for us."

In the semifinals earlier in the day, Red Rock defeated Snowflake High School 51-39 and beat Greyhills Academy High School 47-32, a game in which the second string was able to play most of its minutes.

In pool play on Friday, Dec. 1, the team went 3-0, the most competitive of the three games coming in the 61-51 win over Betty H. Fairfax. The Scorpions also beat the Yuma High School Criminals 53-28 and Pinon High School 1-0 via forfeit.

Dictating the pace, pressuring opposing ballhandlers and striking in transition has been the team’s calling card for multiple seasons. Learning how to score when those opportunities are less abundant was something to take away.

“We try to force a lot of things and try score real fast, and I think if we move the ball, especially against teams that are playing better defense, that we’ll be more successful,” Moncibaez said. “We feel that we have to force something and thread the needle, and that’s not always the case.”

Crans made her season debut at the tournament, and visibly played through pain from a hip injury dating back from before volleyball season in the fall.

After a weeklong break, the team next plays at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at Payson High School.

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