Following three weeks of arduous conditioning practices, Payson High School basketball players will demonstrate their skills this week in regular season play.
The 1999-2000 campaign tips off today, Tuesday, against Chino Valley.
The Lady Longhorns will host CV at 6 p.m. in Wilson Dome. The game will be preceded by a junior varsity clash, also in the dome, set for 4:30 p.m.
Coach Randy Wilcox's boys' team travels west toward Prescott where the Horns will challenge home-standing CV in a 7 p.m. encounter.
The games will represent the debuts of the two varsity teams, but Payson fans had the opportunity for a sneak preview of the squads during pre-season scrimmages held last week in Wilson Dome.
The Lady Horns tuned up Nov. 18 against Mingus Union High School.
In front of a sparse crowd of mostly parents Nov. 20, the boys took to the Wilson hardwood against a very talented Monument Valley High School team.
Watching MV manhandle the Horns with a fast-break offense and tenacious full-court man-to-man defense, fans were left to wonder if they might be previewing the 1999-2000 state championship team.
The Horns battled Monument valiantly, but simply didn't have the height, speed, depth or experience to stay with touted Mustangs.
The scrimmage wasn't without its bright spots for the Horns. David Shaw showed the type of speed that will make him tough to deal with and junior Sterling White turned in rugged performances defensively and on the boards.
Arizona Interscholastic Association regulations forbid the recording of official scores in the preseason scrimmages and that could have been a blessing for Payson.
In the Lady Horns scrimmage against Mingus, coach Jerry Daniels worked to fine-tune his offense which centered around junior Rheanna Martinez.
"She'll probably be our leading scorer and rebounder this season," Daniels said.
The Horn defense, the coach said, will be anchored by senior Sidney Swartwood.
Against Mingus, as Daniels watched his Swartwood-led D play soundly but the offense struggle against the Marauder press, he summed up the proceedings, saying, "We have some things to work on, but for this point in the season I thought we looked pretty decent. The girls scrapped, hustled and showed a lot of desire."
The scrimmage also was a golden opportunity for Daniels to provide playing time for a talented, but inexperienced, crew of four sophomores and one freshman.
For the Lady Horns to achieve their goal of at least a top-two finish in the East division and an advantageous seed into the state tournament, the team will need for the younger players to step up and play spirited varsity-caliber ball, Daniels says.
Following the games against Chino Valley, the two PHS teams will have a one-week
Thanksgiving respite before returning to action Nov. 30 against Fountain Hills. The boys' team hosts FH at 7:30 p.m. in the dome, and the Lady Horns travel to Fountain Hills High for a 7 p.m. tip off.