A frenzied final four minutes was not enough to complete a comeback as the No. 11 Sedona Red Rock High School’s boys basketball team fell to No. 3 Paradise Honors High School 64-57 at home on Friday, Jan. 19.
The Scorpions [7-3, 3-2 Central] trailed 52-39 with half a quarter left in the game before pulling off a 15-7 run to get within five, but the Panthers [14-0, 5-0] made their free throws to claim the win.
“When we turned up the heat — our best offense is our pressure defense — we got a lot of layins and good looks, and the momentum of the game shifted to us as soon as we went into our pressure,” Red Rock head coach Paul Bain said. “... We played decent tonight. We brought our B game, we need our A game to beat them.”
In the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 2, Red Rock trailed just 10-7 after the first quarter before a 36 point outburst from Paradise Honors, led by its suffocating defense, put the game away by halftime.
This time it was losing 18-7 after the first and 29-20 at halftime.
After winning 68-46 at Northland Preparatory Academy on Jan. 12, Bain said the team began to play with the intensity he has looked for, and even more so against Paradise Honors. Beginning midway through the second quarter, the Scorpions brought the pressure full court, and it began to pay off.
And that pressure will remain for the rest of the season.
“We will be pressuring full court denial from now until the sun sets. It’s our strength, we have to,” Bain said.
“...Their 1-3-1 [defense] didn’t turn us over as much tonight — not nearly as much. When the game got out of hand in the second quarter, we had to step up the pressure and see what would happen, and it worked out well for us.”
The fourth quarter rally started with Scorpions junior guard Evan Favorite, who scored back-to-back buckets, the latter on a no-look, overhead toss that kissed off the glass. Red Rock senior guard Wyatt Gregson scored, then senior forward Winston Cox put down a two-handed dunk to spark the crowd, pulling the team to within 11 at 58-47.
Then Scorpions senior guard Hayden Bruce hit a three-pointer, Cox dunked again, and belief in a comeback began to mount.
Cox made it 59-54, but with only 55 seconds left, the hosts ran out of time. Gregson, one of the Scorpions’ go-to scorers, was whistled for his fifth foul, away from the ball, just before Cox’s bucket. A total of 43 fouls were called, slowing the flow of the game throughout.
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They helped Red Rock initially, as the Panthers’ best five were unable to stay together on the floor for much of the game. But the visitors outmuscled the Scorpions on the glass during stretches, and the deficit continued to grow in the second, up to 27-10 at one point, before a 10-2 run reduced it by the half.
Bruce and Cox had a team-high 13 points each.
With the loss, a shot at the Central Region title also likely went away; it was the narrowest region victory Paradise Honors has had so far. But Bain’s focus is on the bigger picture.
“Why we didn’t win the game today is because we’re just kind of average. We’re just not good enough right now. But we got better tonight, and we’re looking forward to Feb. 10, which is the first round of the state playoffs, and we plan on being there, and we plan on being a very difficult out,” Bain said.
The expected return of freshman guard Carlos Parra-Landaverde on Friday, Jan. 26, should help. Before his knee injury, Parra-Landaverde was slated to be a nuisance for the Scorpions on defense.
Girls Continue Win Streak
The girls team beat Paradise Honors 53-33, but led just 25-20 at halftime. Two starters, sophomore forward Mary Westervelt and senior guard Chenoa Crans, who had season-ending surgery on Tuesday, Jan. 16, did not play.
At the start of the third, the Scorpions [9-0, 5-0] got on one of their signature scoring runs, and led 44-26 by quarter’s end. Red Rock senior guard Jo Toscano made a three after an offensive board. Then a turnover become another triple, made by senior guard Liza Westervelt; Westervelt hit from distance more to close out the frame.
“We were just out of rhythm, even though we were missing Mary, we were just not on our game,” Toscano said. “We just finally said, ‘We have to do this,’ and we finally just started running the ball, getting fast breaks and getting up defensively.”
Another Toscano three made it 49-28 at the start of the fourth, and the Scorpions did not look back. They hosted Mingus Mountain Academy on Tuesday, Jan. 23. Results were unavailable at press time.
Up next is a trip to Verde Valley rival Camp Verde High School Friday, Jan. 26 at 5:30 p.m. followed by the boys game at 7 p.m.