The Longhorn jayvee boys' seven-game winning streak -- which included some of the most nip-and-tuck games ever played by a PHS basketball team -- came to a halt Saturday evening in the old Payson High gym with a 64-51 loss to Cactus Shadows.
The demise of the Horns' streak was sealed in the fourth quarter when Cactus erased a Payson 47-46 lead with an 18-4 scoring run.
During the CS domination, Payson -- now 9-3 overall --scored only four free throws.
Horn coach Teddy Pettet said he was left scratching his head wondering why the wheels came off the Longhorn wagon during the stint.
"We had the shots -- just didn't hit them," he said.
A contributing reason could be that the Horns were playing without starting forward Sterling White, who was sidelined with an ankle injury incurred Jan. 19 in a 70-69 overtime win over Coolidge.
White's injury, Pettet said, was being evaluated on a day-to-day basis and it has not yet been decided if he will be available to play in today's (Tuesday) 5:30 p.m. game in Globe.
In the loss to Cactus, Tyler Pettet -- the coach's son -- finished as the leading scorer with 12 points, all of which came on three-point bombs.
The Horns' penchant for playing hair-raisers heightened Friday in Miami with a 45-41 nail-biting victory over Miami. In prior games, the Horns had edged Santa Cruz 44-42, slipped past Fountain Hills 53-50 and gone into overtime to beat Coolidge by a point.
"In four games, we've won by a total of nine points with two overtimes," coach Pettet said. "Each game has tipped the last one for tension and excitement."
About the only blowout the cardiac kids have enjoyed this season was an 81-17 pounding of Arizona Boys Ranch on Jan. 12.
In the win over Miami, Brad Bynum's team-high 10 points fueled the triumph.
The victory over Coolidge Jan. 19 in the Wilson dome came after Payson trailed by eight points with about two minutes remaining. With Coolidge throwing bricks up at the free throw line (12 of 32), the Horns tied the score on Bynum's driving layup with 14 seconds remaining to play in regulation.
In OT, Bynum and David LaForge joined forces for seven points to help the Longhorns live through another scare.
Running and gunnin'
The play of the highly successful jayvee team has featured a spirited running game that might be more at home on a NBA floor or Northern Arizona reservation gymnasium, where the fast break is a way of hardwood life.
Pettet says the breakneck style of play is by design.
"We want to play as hard as we can and be exciting -- not worry about the wins and losses," he said. "That's the way (varsity) coach Randy Wilcox wants it and we're trying to get (the players) ready for varsity next season."
If the opposition cooperates and chooses to get involved in an old-fashioned shoot-out, expect scores in the jayvee's five remaining games to reach the 70s and 80s.
"I've had (fans) tell me they really enjoy the way we play," coach Pettet said.
In freshman basketball, the Horns fell to Coolidge 62-43 Jan. 19 but whipped Santa Cruz 63-35 three days earlier.
In the loss to Coolidge, Matt Carter led all scorers with 17 points. Against Santa Cruz, Carter scored 18.