Hardwood Horns Still Hanging On In Title Chase

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"Stayin' alive" was the theme song of "Saturday Night Fever," the huge musical hit of the disco-crazed 70s.

This basketball season it might be even a bigger hit with Longhorn boys basketball coach Randy Wilcox as he struggles to keep his squad alive in the Central Division title chase.

After performing at a break-even pace (1-1) during the early weeks of the 1998-99 campaign, the Horns desperately needed a Central Division win over the Globe Tigers Tuesday evening in Wilson Dome.

Just as the Bee Gees crooned in their ditty, the Longhorns stayed alive in the chase for Central Division honors with a 73-53 victory.

Now one game over the .500 mark (2-1), the Horns can continue their title aspirations with a win over Fountain Hills at 7 p.m. today (Friday), in Fountain Hills.

Next week, the Horns host Arizona Boys Ranch Jan. 12 and travel to Eloy to face Santa Cruz Jan. 15.

Earlier in the season, Wilcox predicted the three-game set could make or break Longhorn hopes for a berth in the season-ending state tournament.

If the Horns are to be successful in the upcoming trio of clashes, they'll need more of the same offense generated by Jeremy Hoff in the victory over Globe.

Hoff finished with a team high 23 points -- his best outing of the campaign. When he's hot, as he was Tuesday, the Horn "O" operates much more efficiently and shots open up for other players.

In addition to the scoring of Hoff, Payson picked up 16 points from Jeremy Reynolds and 14 more from senior point guard Hunter Walden. Both Walden and Reynolds hit a pair of three-point shot attempts.

Two of the bombs, one each by Walden and Reynolds, came early in the game and helped the Horns edge out a precarious 15-12 lead.

In the second quarter, however, the Horn defense stiffened and the Horns ran out to a 37-23 lead. The margin peaked at 56-35 early in the fourth stanza. In an effort to hold the mounting score down, Wilcox called off the Horns pressure defense.

But after the move, the defense turned less aggressive which allowed the Tigers to creep back into contention. Wilcox reapplied the pressure and the Horns ran away to the 20 point victory.

Loss to Monument Valley
Horn coach Randy Wilcox says he doesn't know if revenge was a motivating factor for Monument Valley in an 85-66 manhandling of Payson Jan. 2 in Kayenta But, he said, it was evident during a third quarter offensive lapse that the Horns couldn't contend with the stifling MV defense.

In last year's state tournament, defending state champion Monument was surprisingly upset by Payson in a game played in the Northern Arizona University Skydome.

In the win, the Horns were consistently able to solve the mystique of MV's pressure defense.

But Saturday, the Horns couldn't rediscover that prowess as Monument turned a close game into a rout just after half-time.

In the crucial third quarter, MV's zone press created numerous Horn miscues that helped turn a 43-37 MV lead into a 69-50 cushion.

Wilcox attributed his team's "lazy entry passes" for the demise.

Late in the game, the two teams played on even terms but the third quarter onslaught was enough for MV to chalk up the victory.

The Horns received double-digit scoring from Walden (18), Reynolds (16) and Hoff (12).

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