The members of the 1998-99 Lady Longhorn basketball team will have one last opportunity to gather and reflect on a season in which the squad won the Central Division Tournament championship, and advanced to the state tournament quarterfinals in Flagstaff before being eliminated.
At 6 p.m. Thursday the players, coaches, parents and fans will meet in Frontier Elementary School for the traditional year-end awards ceremony.
There, coach Jerry Daniels will award varsity letters and unveil the players who were named to the All-Central Division team in a voting of coaches held last week.
The Horns line-up touted several athletes capable of earning post-season honors.
Among others, they include Stephanie Robertson, Sidney Swartwood, Elizabeth Gille, Brandi Waugh and Rheanna Martinez.
As seniors, Robertson and Gille will also be candidates to participate in the Arizona Coaches' Association North vs. South All-Star basketball game when it is played in June at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher.
Swartwood is a junior, Martinez a sophomore and Waugh just a freshman who broke into the starting line-up midway through the season.
All return to form a strong foundation for next year's edition of Lady Horns.
On to state
As the Central Division's number-one seed, the Lady Horns opened the state tournament Feb. 16 at Flagstaff High School with a 59-50 win over Wickenburg. The Wranglers entered the tournament as the West Division's three-seed.
With the win, Payson advanced to the state quarterfinals Feb. 19 in the Northern Arizona University dome against highly-touted Monument Valley.
MV survived a first-half scare for a 77-59 victory and will advance to a state semi-final match against Snowflake at 3:45 p.m. Friday in the Phoenix Suns' America West Arena. The other game in the final four, to be played at 6:45 p.m., pits Tuba City against Winslow.
In the state quarterfinal loss, the Lady Horns outscored MV 18-14 in the second quarter, to erase an early eight-point deficit and trail just 34-30 at half-time.
But in the crucial third quarter, the Horns turned colder than gazpacho, scoring only nine points.
While Horns were struggling in an ill-fated period, the three-balls were falling for MV.
Riding five super-shots, MV ran away to a 61-39 lead in the opening seconds of the fourth stanza.
The Horns were able to get their scoring attack back on track in the final quarter with 20 points but it was too little, too late.
The 11 treys Monument cashed-in-on during the fray proved to be the dagger in the heart of the Horns.
Lorena Sullivan led the MV scud attack with four long-range bombs, two of which came during Monument's third-quarter run.
For Payson, 10 of the 14 players on the roster scored. Robertson ended her PHS playing career with a team-high 13 points. Waugh, Swartwood and Martinez chipped-in with nine each. Kaitlin Wilkins and Gille contributed six apiece.
In the triumph over Wickenburg, Robertson was a scoring machine with 30 points that included deadly 10 of 12 charity shooting. The tall and talented senior who is also a national-class track athlete wasted no time getting untracked with 12 points in the first quarter.
Despite her offensive antics, the Horns found themselves trailing 30-29 at half-time.
A strong defensive effort in the third quarter hog-tied the Wranglers for only six points and Payson surged to a 40-36 cushion.
The Horns might have run away to an even greater victory margin had the team not stumbled through a poor free-throw-shooting exhibition, hitting only nine of 16 attempts in the final eight minutes. Some of the misfires occurred on the front end of one-and-one situations.
Supplementing the scoring of Robertson were Swartwood (16), Martinez (eight) and Waugh (five).