Sports Stories

On paper the Sedona Red Rock High School girls basketball team’s season is unfolding just as it did last year, with just one loss blemishing its regular season record.

The truth of the matter is, though, that the Scorpions’ [13-0, 8-0] success this time around has been a lot more trying. One example came in the comeback 49-34 win at Camp Verde High School on Friday, Jan. 26.

“Their guards were putting a little bit of pressure on us. [Cowboys junior guard] Hope [Ontiveros] had three big threes in the beginning, so that kind of kept them in the game,” Red Rock head coach Dave Moncibaez said. “Those girls definitely grew since the last time we played them; that leadership from [Ontiveros] helped. That’s what we look at when we’re playing the better teams. How are we going to play the second half? Because it’s not going to be an easy road down the line; who’s going to give up first? Who’s going to get hit first and then how are they going to recover?

When we go on our runs it’s hard for teams to recover and when they do it’s a challenge and I think it’s good for us. I think [Camp Verde] did really well defensively on us on the top with the three guards.”

The last time the two teams played, on Jan. 9 in Sedona, the Scorpions controlled the game throughout in a
62-36 win.

This time Red Rock trailed for most of the first half as the Cowboys’ Ontiveros sunk a trio of three-pointers in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Scorpions sophomore forward Jacki King picked up three fouls and as a whole the team was missing scoring opportunities close to the basket.

Trailing 18-13 after the first, the deficit swelled to 22-14 at one point. But then came an 11-4 scoring run to close out the half, capped by a triple from Scorpions sophomore forward Mary Westervelt on an inbounds play, to go up 25-24 at halftime.
Sedona Red Rock High School senior forward Brittany Medel contests a three-pointer by Camp Verde High School junior guard Hope Ontiveros in the first half of a 49-34 Scorpions win on Friday, Jan. 26. The Scorpions hardly trailed in their games last season, but this year have had to learn to play from behind.
It was a similar situation at Payson High School on Dec. 11, when the team was down 10 at halftime before coming back for a 49-38 win. The team is learning to play from behind this year and earning victories in the second half, whereas before games would be wrapped up before halftime.

Camp Verde’s 6-foot sophomore center Jacy Finley was a force inside at both ends and the Scorpions’ press was not affecting the opposing guards. Finally, though, they were able to get out and run the court in their preferred style.
They outscored the Cowboys 16-3 in the third quarter to go up 41-27.

“It’s really good to show that we can show that we can come back when we’re behind, because a lot of teams can’t do that,” Westervelt said. “And that shows how much fight we have in us and against the bigger teams through the whole state tournament that we can come back, and we shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

In the fourth two starters in King and senior forward Brittany Medel fouled out with more than four minutes left. Red Rock finished out the game with more experience that should prove useful at the Arizona Interscholastic Association Conference 2A tournament, set to begin on Feb. 16.

“Those are really good opportunities for us too because when we get into that state level and we are up but we’re only up by five; we need to able to execute those situations. It actually is beneficial on our end, being in situations like that,” Moncibaez said.

It beat Mingus Mountain Academy 52-20 on Monday, Jan. 29, before celebrating senior night against Northland Preparatory Academy on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Red Rock won 63-14.

Beating those two teams and Glendale Preparatory Academy on Friday, Feb. 2, will secure a second straight Central Region title for 2A’s No. 3 ranked team.

It is a busy week, as it travels to Phoenix Christian High School on Wednesday, Jan. 31, and then hosts Page High School 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, to round out the regular season.

Note: This story was updated on Wednesday, Jan. 31, to include the score from Tuesday, Jan. 30, and updated region standings.

Central Region Standings
School Region Overall

Red Rock

Camp Verde

Glendale Prep

Paradise Honors

Northland Prep

Mingus Mountain Academy