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“Overall, the better team,” said Sedona Red Rock High School head girls basketball coach Joe Donaldson.

Forward Kristina Schindele is one of two seniors whose void Sedona Red Rock High School will need to fill along the Scorpions front line next season. Schindele and freshman Liza Westervelt both scored 13 points in their loss at Many Farms High School in the first round of the Division III state girls basketball tournament.

He could not say much more to explain why Many Farms High School defeated the Scorpions for the second time this season, 74-44, in the first round of the Division III state tournament Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Freshman guard Liza Westervelt and senior forward Kristina Schindele each scored 13 points to lead SRRHS, which lost on the road in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight season.

The two chief reasons why, at least statistically, were rebounds and turnovers. SRRHS only had 13 rebounds the entire game, while Donaldson gave up keeping track of turnovers after the Scorpions had “30 plus,” he said, “with no press or significant pressure.”

The Scorpions “easily broke the initial attempt” at a press defense by the Lobos and shot 85 percent from the free-throw line, he added. “They simply outworked us [with] good, straight-up man” defense.

For the full story, please see the Friday, Feb. 20, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

Help, if not height, is on the way for Head Coach Danni Barker and her Sedona Juniors.

Taylor White, 15, will fly with the Juniors to a tournament Thursday, Feb. 26, in Denver. White and five other Sedona girls won three of eight matches in three days Saturday through Monday, Feb. 14 through 16, at the Festival Fiesta Classic in Phoenix.
Barker’s 17s club volleyball team won three games in eight matches over three days despite being outsized against taller competition from Canada as well as around the state, finishing 22nd at the Festival Fiesta Phoenix on Monday,
Feb. 16.

“Everybody was taller than us,” said Barker, who only had six players for five continuous hours of match play Saturday, Feb. 14. “They had no break to go to the bathroom or eat anything. That was three very long days.”

Although it took another loss to integrate them, Madi Ninneman, Annie Parrella, Liza Westervelt and Nikki Zielinski were the reinforcements Barker needed to win two matches Sunday, Feb. 15. Girls basketball commitments swept them away again Presidents’ Day for the tournament’s final round.

“In hindsight, if we had my whole team there, we could’ve taken it, because the competition was not that good,” Barker said.

She will have everyone but Zielinski — a freshman catcher for the Sedona Red Rock High School softball team — flying with her to Denver on Thursday, Feb. 26, for a much larger tournament, the Colorado Crossroads.

For the full story, including more photos and tournament scores, please see the Friday, Feb. 20, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

Hope is maybe the best of things for the Sedona Red Rock High School girls basketball team going into the first round of the Division III state tournament Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Looking for revenge for their Dec. 29 loss to Many Farms High School are freshmen Liza Westervelt, right, and the rest of the Sedona Red Rock High School girls basketball team. The Scorpions will attempt to advance to the second round of the Division III state tournament Wednesday, Feb. 18, with a win over the Lobos.
Hope inspired the Scorpions to an upset, in double overtime, of fourth-ranked Camp Verde High School in their Section III tournament in Phoenix.

“I just asked them all to close their eyes and visualize what we do that makes us successful,” head coach Joe Donaldson recalled what he told the team during a full time out in the first overtime. “Nobody wants to make a mistake.

“Whoever has the mental advantage will win. The girls gained it based on the shots we made, and we stayed positive.”

Hope kept SRRHS [18-9] going after it could have been extinguished by two double-digit losses to Valley Christian High School — including a 64-24 blowout Saturday, Feb. 14, in the sectional championship game.

The top-ranked Trojans had a combined margin of victory 11 points greater than the Scorpions’ total number of points scored in both contests.

“There was no body language that suggested they were going to give up,” assistant coach Frank Garcia said. “They just rolled up their sleeves and got to work. It was an honor and a privilege to watch.”

But if hope truly never dies, it will have kept the season alive for the 17th-ranked Scorpions, who have a third matchup at top-ranked, undefeated VCHS awaiting them Saturday, Feb. 21, if they can win their first-round game at No. 16 seed Many Farms High School [19-8].

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Feb. 18, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

In their last chance to qualify for upcoming spring regional and state championship meets at the Lost Dutchman Meet in Chandler, four Sedona Swim Team members stood out from over 1,200 swimmers Monday, Feb. 16.

Jaxon Oles swims laps for the Sedona Swim Team during Swordfish warmup drills at the Sedona Community Pool. The 12-year-old Sedona swimmer qualified for the regional short course spring club swimming championships beginning Friday, Feb. 20, at the Scottsdale Aquatic Center.
That was the pool from which Mingus Union High School junior Caleb Furey made the finals in the 50-yard breaststroke to lead three other Sedona Swordfish qualifiers for the three-day short course regional swimming competition, scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20, at the Scottsdale Aquatic Center.  

“Places aren’t really accurate due to … the size — almost quadruple the size of high school slates,” said A. Jay Bronson, Swordfish head coach. “It’s about personal bests, which every swimmer had at this meet in almost every event.”

While 12-year-old Jaxon Oles made the cut for regionals in four more events, perhaps the best personal record came from 11-year-old local swimmer Aiden Beck, whose time in the 100-yard butterfly dropped almost 40 seconds, from 2:15 down to 1:37 — the biggest time drop of any Swordfish swimmer.

“For club, we look at these kids improving moreso than team rankings,” Bronson said. “I’m incredibly proud of them and every swimmer kicked butt.”

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Feb. 18, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

Last call: All aboard the Junk Food Express.

Seventh-grader Mary Westervelt, a guard for the Big Park Community School girls basketball team, will advance to the National Hoop Shoot competition in Springfield, Mass., if she hits more free throws than four other 12- to 13-year-old contestants Saturday,  Feb. 21, at the Western Regional Hoop Shoot. Each player tries to make as many free throws as possible out of 25 at the Las Vegas shoot, which is sponsored by the Elks Lodge.

After five years of watching herself and her sister Liza fall a couple of free throws short of making the National Elks Hoop Shoot Finals, Big Park Community School seventh-grader Mary Westervelt will board a Las Vegas-bound bus chartered by the state Elks lodges — and loaded with garbage bags full of candy and other junk food — for a final shot Saturday, Feb. 21, at a trip to Springfield, Mass.

At the Feb. 7 state hoop shoot in Apache Junction, Westervelt joined younger state representatives at the West Region 7 Hoop Shoot Semifinal by sinking 19 free throws out of 25 attempts.

“It wasn’t close at all, really,” Westervelt said. “I was actually really surprised, because usually, the previous times I’ve gone and watched Liza, they’re always really good.”

If she can out-shoot four other finalists from California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah, Westervelt would advance to nationals Thursday, April 16.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Feb. 18, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

Ready or not, here come the Scorpions.

Junior guard Annie Parrella, right, drives around a screen set by sophomore forward Hannah Ringel during Sedona Red Rock High School’s victory Feb. 5 over Cortez High School. Parrella scored 11 points and Ringel had 14 to go with her 17 rebounds as the girls basketball team upset fourth-ranked Camp Verde High School to earn a shot at a home seed Wednesday, Feb. 18, in the Division III state tournament. The Scorpions will play top-ranked Valley Christian High School in the Section III championship game Saturday, Feb. 14.
Freshman Nikki Zielinski scored 15 bench points, leading a comeback from 10 points down with three minutes in the fourth quarter as Sedona Red Rock High School’s girls basketball team knocked out fourth-ranked Camp Verde High School in double overtime, 60-53, at Washington High School.

“Usually, if they get a lead, we kind of give up,” Zielinski said. “But this time, instead of giving up, we just got after it.”

SRRHS [18-8] will face top-ranked Valley Christian High School, a 55-12 winner over Fountain Hills High School, in the Section III championship game Saturday, Feb. 14, at 5:15 p.m., with a first-round home game in the Division III playoffs at stake.

For the full story, please see the Friday, Feb. 13, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

Friday, Feb. 20, at 5:15 p.m. is the time for all Sedona soccer supporters to come to the aid of their sport.

That is the message from Nathan Hardy, commissioner of the Region 232 of the American Youth Soccer Organization, who will be looking for at least 17 volunteers to help revive what has been missing from Sedona since the retirement of local architect and former AYSO town commissioner Dan Surber.

“I will take anything and everything I can possibly get,” Hardy said. “I’m willing to look at any option. Somebody to deal with just the equipment would be great — a couple of parents for just striping fields, setting up and taking down nets.”

Adults willing to pass the AYSO national board’s background check are needed for everything from laying down field tape to becoming certified as Surber’s successor. Hardy and all of his staff will be ready to sign up volunteers at the Feb. 20 meeting, which will take place in the Vultee conference room at Sedona City Hall, 102 Roadrunner Drive.

“What I would really like to see from Sedona is people stepping up to coach,” Hardy explained, “or saying, ‘Look, I don’t have time to coach, but how do I get trained to ref games: What can I do? Here’s how much time I have.’”
That has been “a tough deal, always,” Hardy added, since Surber’s last year, when he had so little help that he met with his six other local soccer supporters, including Sedona Red Rock High School assistant girls soccer coach Will Geurts.

“Dan was doing it all, really, but there were times he had to have help,” said Hardy, who estimated the number of hours volunteered weekly by Surber to be equivalent to a full-time job — in addition to his job. “He laid it all on the line: ‘This is what I do. Do you all have time, between the five or six of you, to do my job?’ All of them said no.”

The Sedona Parks and Recreation Department reached out to Hardy after full-time AYSO commitments in Camp Verde, Clarkdale and Cottonwood kept three former soccer coaches — each with over 25 years’ experience as board members — from doing anything more than pitching in after Surber retired.

“Right now, we’re in tournament season,” Hardy explained. “If you’ve only got four to five teams in your town, it’s pretty easy. To do it right, once the season gets geared up in July and August, [the job] takes 12 to 15 hours a week.”

Although certain youth coaches such as Juan Beltran, Mark Creske and Jason Metzger remain dedicated to Region 232 players, Hardy added, the time commitment has diminished in the last four years as the number of registered players has dropped from 1,100 to less than 700 — in part due to the lack of volunteers. Player registration opens on the EAYSO website in March.  

“We had to give some refunds because there [were] players registered with no coaches,” he said. “The time is really indicative of how much help you have, how much you’re willing to delegate and how many players you have.”

In addition to a Sedona resident willing to make a three-year commitment to town commissioner, assistants to the registrar and regional commissioner are also needed to schedule practices and find coaches for local youth soccer teams to play on local fields by Wednesday, April 15.

For the full story, please see the Friday, Feb. 13, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

Sedona volleyball players know no offseason.

Surrounded by her teammates on the Sedona Juniors, Taylor White goes up for a spike off a solid set during practice in the Sedona Red Rock High School auxiliary gym Wednesday, Feb. 11. White will be one of only six players available from the 17s team the first day of the Festival Fiesta tournament Saturday, Feb. 14, in Phoenix.
Nobody understands this better than Sedona Juniors head coach Danni Barker.

“They wanted to do a big tournament,” she said. “My goals are to run a quicker offense and get our middles more involved. School sports come first, but we don’t have a setter because the basketball team did better than they thought.”

Due to Sedona Red Rock High School playing in the Section III girls basketball championship Saturday, Feb. 14, at 5:15 p.m., Barker and her husband, Mick, have been preparing to play with only six of her normal age group 17s team players before they return to full strength for the final two days of the Festival Fiesta at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Junior Annie Parrella, sophomore Madi Ninneman and freshmen Liza Westervelt and Nikki Zielinski will not be available for the first match of the festival at 2 p.m., in which girls anywhere from eighth grade through the age of 18 can shine and sharpen their volleyball skills against other club teams from Phoenix as well as Alaska, California and Texas.

For more photos, full Juniors rosters and the rest of the story, please see the Friday, Feb. 13, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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