It was practice as usual for the Lady Longhorns Monday morning when the team took to the Wilson dome court to prepare for a rival that pummeled them earlier this season by 25 points.
At 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4 in the dome, the Horns will try to improve upon a 75-50 loss to the Snowflake Lobos suffered Dec. 3 in the River Valley Invitational Tournament.
In that PHS loss, Lady Lobos Cari Adams and Becky Elkins joined forces for 26 points each.
While the tournament loss to the Lobos was tough for the Lady Horns to absorb, a second one would be even more lethal since the encounter is an East match.
With a win over Snowflake, the Lady Horns will be off to a 2-0 start in the division and well on their way to nailing down a playoff berth.
But for the Horns to pull off the upset of the heavily favored Lobos, the team's defense will have to find a way to stop the talented duo of Adams and Elkins.
That assignment could fall upon any two of the Lady Horn defenders if coach Jerry Daniels opts to stay with the man-to-man defensive schemes he's used most of the early season.
He could, however, switch to a zone or combination defenses to try and slow the scoring of the talented Lobo duo.
Tournament silver medalists
The Lady Horns open the 2000 season against Snowflake fresh off a second-place finish in the Holiday Hoops tournament played Dec. 20 and 21 in Wilson dome.
After advancing to the championship game with three consecutive wins, Payson's gold medal hopes were thwarted 74-53 by Class 5A Gilbert.
In the loss, the Lady Horns struggled in the early going and quickly found themselves trailing 23-14.
Early in the third quarter, Gilbert built a 41-25 cushion which eventually proved to be too large an obstacle for Payson to overcome, despite a game-high 20 points from junior forward Rheanna Martinez.
Sophomore Brandi Waugh also turned in a stellar offensive outing, finishing with 18 points.
Martinez and Waugh were at the forefront of most of the scoring, but the Horn cause also received contributions from Ashli Herrera (four), Trista Carlton (four), Bryn Wilkins (three), Sidney Swartwood (two) and Jennifer Plumb (two).
For Gilbert, a player with plenty of Rim country connections -- Mandi Sproule -- finished with 15 points and earned a berth on the all-tournament team alongside Payson's Sidney Swartwood and Rheanna Martinez.
Sproule is the cousin of PHS senior Kyle Conway who quarterbacked the Horn football team last season.
As accomplished rodeo performers, Conway and Sproule have joined forces to team rope on the high school circuit.
Grounding the Titans
In selecting both Martinez and Swartwood to the all-tournament team, voting judges had plenty of opportunity to be impressed by the pair's one-two punch in Payson's 59-46 semi-final whipping of Scottsdale Arcadia.
With Martinez scoring 22 points and Swartwood 14, the Horns forged an early 12-9 lead and never looked back.
At tournament's end, Martinez said the Arcadia victory was her best performance of the young season. Her selection to the all-tournament team was her fourth such regular season basketball honor in the past two seasons.