Longhorn boys' freshman basketball coach Matt Janish might want to pen a thank-you note to former Shelby School coach Steve Rensch.
Last hoop season, Rensch fielded a highly competitive eighth-grade team at Shelby which played more than 30 games, many against schools boasting student body populations of more than 1,000.
The Shelby players had the advantages of a very ambitious schedule and the opportunities to improve their court skills in the heat of competition .
Four players who were starters on that Shelby team are now hooping it up for the Payson High School freshmen and doing an admirable job.
In a 56-35 season-opening thumping of Chino Valley Nov. 23, Dallas Rensch -- a Shelby alumnus and the former coach's son -- was a one-man scoring machine, finishing with 29 points which included perfect six-for-six free-throw shooting.
Other Shelby graduates included Alex Cassuto (four points), Nick Cassuto (two) and Chicago Houdek (two).
With the former Shelby players now joining forces with a talented group of Rim Country Middle School graduates, the freshmen sport a nucleus of players which could make life on the hardwood tough for any opponent.
Former RCMS players contributing to the Horn cause were David Daniels (five) Nathan Accord (three), David Curtis (three), Eric Rickie (two), Randy Perham (two), Chris Donaldson (two) and Waylon Pettet (two).
In junior varsity play, the Longhorns were not quite as fortunate as their younger counterparts dropping a 55-36 decision to Chino.
A slow start in which the Horn jayvees were outscored 12-4 spelled the demise of PHS hopes for a win.
Matt Carter was the offensive show for Payson scoring 15 points. Ky Bradley contributed five, Jeremy Greenburg and Dusty Brockett four each.
Both teams return to action today, Nov. 30, in Wilson Dome against Fountain Hills. Game times are 4:30 p.m. (frosh) and 6 p.m. (jayvees).