The struggling Longhorn boys' basketball team (1-6) will try to get its fast break on track this evening (Tuesday) against a team that features the same type of run-and-gun philosophy as does PHS coach Randy Wilcox.
The only trouble is Holbrook might have more thoroughbreds to showcase in the fray scheduled to tip-off at 7:30 p.m. in Wilson dome.
The Roadrunners, living up to their team name, have long featured a solid nucleus of Navajo and Hopi players who have honed their skills in endless pickup games on dirt courts around the reservations.
Their break-neck style at both ends of the court often creates confusion and frustration in opponents.
Last Saturday's scheduled clash against Alchesay would have been a good tune-up for the Horns, but at the last minute it was canceled and will be played at the end of the regular season.
Now, the contest against the Runners will represent the Longhorns' East Division debut.
The Horns have experienced their share of woes throughout the early season, but -- put in the proper perspective --Holbrook can represent a new start for the team.
Forget the first seven games -- a victory tonight and Payson is 1-0 and an East Division co-leader just in time for the Christmas holiday break.
What more can a player or coach ask for than to be in first place with a vacation on the horizon?
Of course, a loss would put the Horns in the East hole and mean they'd have to pick up a "make up" road victory somewhere down the rugged East highway.
Loss to Santa Cruz
The Longhorns -- who the politically correct would tag vertically challlenged and inexperienced -- finally broke into the winning column with a 52-48 overtime win over River Valley Dec. 4 in the Winslow tournament.
However, only days later in Eloy, the Horns returned to their losing ways dropping a 75-59 decision to Santa Cruz.
Again, it was a case of not having the height or experience to battle inside which created the demise of the Rim team, Wilcox said.
Tall and talented Dust Devil Dansha Masters virtually owned the Horn defense, pounding his way in the low blocks for a game-high 25 points including some rim rattling dunks. Teammate Chris Calva chipped in 22 points with good outside shooting, including a pair of three-balls.
With the Horn defense floundering in its attempt to curtail the scoring antics of Masters and Calva, Wilcox said he was hoping for more scoring off the fast break.
But the best the Longhorns could come up with was 14 points from Keith Stevens.
That point total could have been even greater had the senior forward cashed in at the free throw line.
The youngster made good on only one of the 10 charity tosses he was awarded. As a team, the Horns finished a dismal five for 15 from the line.
Payson also received double-digit scoring from Joe Sanchez, Andrew Easton and David Shaw.
Sanchez contributed 13 points, Easton 11 and Shaw 10.
In addition to suffering through a power outage on offense, the Horns also took a pounding on the boards where they were out rebounded by a healthy 47-32 margin.
Stevens was Payson's best rebounder, finishing with 11 retrieves, seven of which came on the offensive end.
About the only other Longhorn who could toil on even terms with the Eloy strong men was Sterling White. He corralled 10 missed shots but struggled on offense, finishing with just seven points.
Following this evening's clash against Holbrook, the Horns will take a brief holiday recess then return to action Dec. 28 in the Camp Verde Invitational Tournament. Schedules for the fray have not been finalized.