If the results of the first three games of the season are true indicators, the Longhorns might not have the horses to run in the stake races.
That glimpse of a less-than-bright hoop future for the PHS boys' basketball team was first seen Nov. 20 in a preseason pounding dished out by powerful Monument Valley. Because it was a scrimmage, no official score was kept, but it was obvious to all in Wilson dome that MV was kicking sand in Payson faces.
Three days later, the Horns again took it on the chin, this time from Chino Valley 78-54.
And, Nov. 30 in Fountain Hills, the Horns were frustrated 90-48 by the Falcons.
Coach Randy Wilcox, in his second year at the helm of the program, says he's determined to right the Horns' listing ship but realizes this team doesn't have the height or experience to contend with the big, fast thoroughbred of the East division.
On the PHS starting lineup, only senior Joe Sanchez has much varsity playing experience. However, it was limited to a back-up role last season when he spent much of the time injured.
The remaining team members --including Sterling White, Andrew Easton, David Shaw, Ty Bennett, Brad Bynum and Tyler Pettet --were mostly jayvee performers last season and are just now picking up the nuances of varsity play.
As a senior, Keith Stevens is a starter ... but that's a tad misleading since he sat out last year and missed an all-important year of development and team play.
Also, belying the Horn effort is the loss of two potential starters -- one to academic eligibility and the other for violating team discipline codes.
With the East division set to tip off Saturday (Dec. 11) in Whiteriver against Alchesay, Wilcox will have his work cut out trying to find the speed and talent to stay up with the Falcons' fast break, pressing style of play.
The key to the Horns inside game appears to rest on the shoulders of forward/center Sterling White who is the Horns' tallest player at 6-foot, 4 inches. When White is playing hard-nosed interior offense and defense, Payson can stay in contention. The only trouble is, there's only one of him and most other teams sport an entire front line of athletes with his type of abilities.
One of White's best outings came against Fountain Hills when he scored a team-high 16 points.
Scoring help in the loss came from Stevens (7) and Easton (6). Sanchez, Pettet and Bynum chipped in with four points each.
David Shaw finished with four points but also represents the Horns' best threat at running with the East division speedsters. The youngster, also a Horn track star, can get up and down the court with the best of the prepsters but has yet to see his scoring get untracked. Prior to the four points, he tallied against Fountain Hills and he had eight against Chino.