Sports Stories
With two minutes remaining in the championship game and the Sedona Red Rock High boys basketball team ahead by 15 points, head coach Bob Murphy cleared his bench as he congratulated his players coming off the floor on a job well done.
By Brian Bergner Jr.
Larson Newspapers

With two minutes remaining in the championship game and the Sedona Red Rock High boys basketball team ahead by 15 points, head coach Bob Murphy cleared his bench as he congratulated his players coming off the floor on a job well done.

Players began to hug each other with smiles ear to ear as they began to celebrate a White Mountain Holiday Classic tournament championship.

As the final seconds ticked away and the final buzzer sounded, all 12 Scorpions basketball players’ arms reached into the sky at once as if they were grabbing something off a high shelf to celebrate a surprise tournament championship at Blue Ridge High this past weekend.

A few parents and newly-found Scorpions’ fans cheered their team on as on top of that shelf was some much-deserved hardware.

Sedona was handed the tournament championship plaque and in unison held it above their heads together.

Afterward, sophomore forward Kevin Cox was handed an All-Tournament Team award and senior Michael Krajnak was handed an All-Tournament award and the prestigious tournament Most Valuable Player award.

“It’s very exciting to get the MVP award but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. It’s more important that we won the tournament,” Krajnak said.

“Together” was the key word in this tournament for the Scorpions as they figured out how to work together and achieve a common goal.

Just two weeks ago, the Scorpions suffered a devastating loss to Monument Valley High which dropped their record to an average 5-5 [1-0] on the season.

Since then, the Scorpions have rattled off six straight wins to improve their record to 11-5 [1-0] at the mid-way point in the season.

“I think we’re beginning to put a few things together. We are beginning to play the way we know we can,” senior center Matt Nazarian said.

During the six-game winning streak, Nazarian has stepped up his game and is playing some of the best basketball in his career by averaging 10 points per game [60], 11.4 rebounds per game [68] and 2.4 blocks per game [14].

Comeback kids

The entire tournament would have certainly turned out differently for the Scorpions if they hadn’t somehow pulled out the  miracle on White Mountain Street in pool play on the first day of the tournament, Thursday, Dec. 27.

Down 35-17 at the half to St. Johns High, the Scorpions were searching for answers.

Those answers were beginning to show themselves as the Scorpions finally started to play a little basketball.

Sedona outscored St. Johns 19-16 in the third quarter but still found themselves down 51-36 going into the fourth.

Out of nowhere came senior leader Krajnak, scoring all 20 of his points in the second half as his Scorpions outscored St. Johns 25-5 in the fourth quarter to amazingly win the game, 61-56.

Krajnak wasn’t the only one who found the basket as 10 of the 12 players scored at least two points.

Other standouts included Cox who had 10 points, four rebounds and three steals and junior Luke Dumyahn who had eight points and eight rebounds.

“Who are you going to stop when 10 guys can score on you,” Murphy asked.

Sedona clips Eagle wings

In the night cap on day one, the Scorpions played their second game of the day in pool play, this time against Phoenix Country Day High.

The Eagles were no match for the high-energy Scorpions as Sedona took a 39-29 lead into the halftime break.

Balanced offense was the key again for Sedona as 10 players scored in a run-and-gun style of play.

In the second half, Sedona continued the high-octane offense to outscore Phoenix Country Day 26-14 to get the victory, 65-43.

The win secured Sedona’s No. 3 seed in the championship bracket and a first-round bye.

Standouts included Krajnak who scored 18 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.

Dumyahn scored 10 points and added three blocked shots while junior Sammy Holeyfield scored eight points.

“I didn’t know how we were going to do, but our confidence was through the roof which led to the win,” Dumyahn said.

Bear down

In the second round of the tournament championship bracket Sedona was matched up against the Coolidge High Bears on Friday, Dec. 28.

After a hard-fought first game in the wee-hours of the morning, Coolidge ran out of gas against a well-rested Sedona team as the Scorpions went on to win, 78-56.

At the half, the Bears were not going away as the Scorpions took a slim 35-27 lead going into the locker room.

In the third quarter, after Coolidge found themselves down 19 points, the Bears made a run at the Scorpions and cut it to a 14-point lead with three seconds remaining in the quarter, 54-40.

Senior center Brandon Johnson squandered any Coolidge momentum however with a thrilling last-second three to beat the buzzer and give the Scorpions a 57-40 lead.

From then on the Scorpions continued to pour it on and made it a 78-56 final.

Standouts included Krajnak who scored 25 points and had 12 rebounds and six assists.

Holeyfield scored nine points, junior guard Stephen Byrnes scored seven points, Dumyahn scored seven points and Nazarian had 12 points and eight rebounds to go along with his two blocked shots.

The Scorpions also had one of their best shooting performances on the season as they hit 33 of 66 shots for a 50 percent clip.

“We have a bunch of hard- working guys on this team and after this win I believe we started to establish a team effort for all that hard work to pay off,” Murphy said.

Elk sighting

In the semi-finals on Friday, Dec. 28, the Scorpions found themselves Elk hunting as they were matched up against Round Valley High.

The Elks posed a threat to Sedona’s defense as they themselves exuberated, pushing the ball up the floor, just as the Scorpions do.

The high-paced game played right into the Scorpions’ hands as they took a 23-12 lead after one quarter of play.

The second quarter wasn’t much different as Sedona outscored Round Valley 18-8 to take a 41-20 lead going into the locker room.

After the break, the Scorpions began to lose focus a bit and were outscored 24-16 as the Elks weren’t out of it just yet, 57-44.

With Krajnak’s 19 points, Cox’s 17 points and Dumyahn’s 13 points, the Scorpions were able to avoid disaster and get the win to move on to the finals, 72-58.

Nazarian was a big contributor as well with eight points and 10 rebounds.

“We didn’t play scared, we were the aggressors,” Nazarian said.

Finals rematch

Many believed going in that the Scorpions had an easy draw in pool play which catapulted them into the finals, but all doubts went away when two of the three teams in that pool made it to the tournament championship game on Saturday, Dec. 29.

The Redskins and the Scorpions met up again and this time Sedona would leave no doubt they were better than St. Johns.

Krajnak led the Scorpions with 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals as Sedona went on to take home the championship, 66-51.

Nazarian wasn’t bad either, scoring 14 points and pulling down a massive 17 rebounds.

Cox chipped in 11 points, four rebounds and three blocked shots as well.

“Our mind set was to go in and compete to see where we were at as a team. Once we started believing in ourselves, we couldn’t be stopped,” Cox said.

Wrap up

The Scorpions picked the right time to be clicking on all cylinders as they begin the meat of their 3A-West regional play this week when they travel south to Goodyear and play Estrella Foothills High on Thursday, Jan. 3.

The Wolves are widely considered not only one of the best teams in 3A, but one of the best teams in all classes combined in Arizona.

Estrella Foothills is currently 14-0 [2-0] on the season.

Brian Bergner Jr. can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 131, or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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