A furious fourth-quarter rally which produced the second-most points ever scored in a single stanza by a Longhorn basketball team, propelled Payson to a 62-46 East Division win over the Holbrook Roadrunners.
The game was played Tuesday evening in Wilson dome before an enthusiastic Payson crowd.
Leading only 33-32 as play opened in the final quarter, the Horns (5-3 overall, 1-0 in the East) heated up the nets for 29 points, just a field goal short of the 31 Payson scored against Globe in 1997. In that record-setting clash, the Horns also set a school standard for points scored in a game with 102.
While the win over Holbrook didn't produce that astronomical point total, it went a long way in proving the team has the firepower and determination to cut loose at any given moment.
After scoring only eight points in the first quarter and nine in the second, the Lady Horns trailed 22-17 at halftime and appeared to be suffering from a case of the ho-hum doldrums.
The lack of aggressiveness was a bit unusual for the young but talented team in a game that was an all-important East opener.
Also troubling for Longhorn faithful was the shooting slump of leading scorer Rheanna Martinez.
Throughout the first half, she was held to a single free throw and misfired on the nine shots she took from the field.
In the halftime locker room, the adjustments involved mostly the team's mental approach to the game, Daniels said.
"The girls just decided they really wanted to win and the way to do it was not be intimidated and be more aggressive," he said.
The new attitudes began to pay dividends in the third quarter when the team began to cash in on more dribble drives to the basket rather than settling for jump shots.
Led by senior Sidney Swartwood's four-of-four charity shooting and four field goals from Martinez, the Lady Horns forged a one-point lead late in the third quarter.
However, the period was only a preview of things to come as the Lady Horns continued to run, gun and pound the boards on the way to the convincing triumph.
Payson also received unexpected benefits when a trio of the Roadrunner's best players -- Candice Cummings, Nikki Begay and Shomaray Stingley -- fouled out.
The loss of Begay was especially damaging for the Roadrunners in that she had racked up 14 points in the first half. The Runner star was scoreless in the second. Cummings had 10 points and Stingley five before their early trips to the pine.
The foul-prone nature of the Roadrunners resulted in a whooping 40 free throws for the Lady Horns. But the bad news in the Payson camp is the team only made good on 20 of the attempts.
Holbrook was eight for 12 from the line.
For the Lady Horns, Martinez survived her slow start to finish as the game's leading scorer with 24 points. Swartwood contributed 14, Kaitlan Wilkins 10, Jennifer Plumb seven and Brandi Waugh four.
The Lady Horns will return to East division action at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4 in Wilson dome against Snowflake.
Because the Lady Lobos are the pre-season favorites to win the divisional title and already own a victory over Payson, the results of the encounter could play a pivotal role in the Horns quest for an East crown and an advantageous seed into the state tournament.