Sports Stories
The Sedona Red Rock High girls basketball team had one of their most successful seasons last year, finishing 17-13 and playing in the state tournament.
By Nick Ruland
Larson Newspapers

The Sedona Red Rock High girls basketball team had one of their most successful seasons last year, finishing 17-13 and playing in the state tournament.

Sedona lost four integral members from that team however, including guards Gaby Buch, Bridget Snider and Hannah Goldsmith and forward Kelsey Minard.

The 2006-07 version seeks to establish a new identity.

There are known factors going forward.

Four girls appear to have locked up starting spots. Danny Jovanovich can play small and big forward. Breanne Cunningham, a star surprise freshman last year will play point guard. Tori Talkington and Bobbi Hillman also are returning to provide depth.

This team however, seems to be built from the inside.

Courtney Fitzpatrick, who nearly averaged a double-double last year, to go along with two blocks a game will play power forward and should lead the team in scoring, while lone senior, center Whitney Oestmann hopes to provide leadership and rebounding down low.

Oestmann watched the senior leadership last year lead the team to consistent wins. She hopes to have taken the baton.

?I want to be the go-to person that everyone can rely on,? Oestmann said.

Oestmann believes the key to success goes beyond the court.

?We need to be a team, more like a family, and not just friends at school,? Oestmann said.

Developing the bonds off the court could give the team chemistry on the court.

Although the process of personality assimilation may be slowed by the integration of players from the state soccer team, some of it was done over the summer.

Oestmann, Cunningham and team wildcards, freshman Rita Clancy and Katy Adams, showed strong work ethic in the summer league that could prove to be the key to regular season victories.

?They played. It was clear they got better,? said Bob Murphy, now entering his fourth year as head coach.

What is not clear, however, is whether the team will be rebuilding or as competitive as last year.

Although Fitzpatrick, Cunningham, Jovanovich and Oestmann all have extensive varsity playing time, they have not played without other senior leaders.

The potential for a chemistry experiment gone awry remains, but it is more likely that the squad under Oestmann?s desire to lead — and the soccer player?s imported winning legacy — should provide the team with a winning mentality, able to handle adversity and pressure.

Handling pressure also becomes important stylistically. Outside of ?Mad Handles? Cunningham, it is unclear who will help get the ball up the court against zone pressure defenses.

?It will be a team thing,? Murphy said.

Murphy hopes that all of his preseason questions can be answered as easily and not persist in the regular season. Plausible capabilities yield high hopes and positive prognostications, but as the competition looms cohesion because a matter of hastiness.

The team may or may not have a long way to go. Depends on if, when, and how the squad comes together.

?The program owes it to Whitney [Oestmann] to win. We talk about contending for region,? Murphy said.

SRRHS opens the season against Mingus Union High on Monday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. at Mingus, in Cottonwood.


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