Blue Ridge Battle Turns Into Horns Bruiser

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Some nights, teams just don't show up.

Such was the case for the Payson Longhorns Thursday evening in Lakeside.

There, a lackluster shooting effort and poor rebounding haunted the Horns all evening in a 57-34 loss to the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets.

"We came out flat, almost lifeless," coach Randy Wilcox said.

Blue Ridge quickly took advantage of Payson's lethargy by jumping out to a 21-11 lead.

"That first quarter is what killed us," Wilcox said.

At halftime, the Horns who trailed 29-18 continued to struggle to find an offense that could generate points.

"We were 8-for-24 (from the field) and our shot selection wasn't bad. We were just ice cold," Wilcox said.

Trailing 39-24 in the third quarter, a Horn rally could have lifted the team into contention.

However, a late run was not in the cards for Payson who was outscored 18-10 over the course of the final stanza.

The team's second-half shooting performance 6-for-21 was more miserable than that turned in during the opening two quarters.

With no player in double figures, the Horns never owned the hot shooter to turn to during crunch time.

Limited offensive contributions were turned in by Brad Bynum, Dusty Brockett, Ky Bradley and Mike Doss, who scored seven points each. Sterling White finished with four points and David LaForge had two.

Senior guard Tyler Pettet didn't participate due to an ankle injury incurred in Tuesday's 67-59 overtime win over Chino Valley.

Although the Horns owned a definite height advantage over Blue Ridge, Payson was outrebounded 37-26.

That lackluster effort was in sharp contrast to the team's performance one week ago when the Horns dominated the boards in an East regional win over Holbrook.

Good rebounding and improved shooting, Wilcox said, will be the key to Horn hopes in upcoming regional shoot outs.

The loss to Blue Ridge drops the Horns credentials to 6-4 overall and 2-1 in the East.

Next up for the Horns is a Dec. 27 and 28 visit to Camp Verde to participate in the Yvonne Johnson Memorial Tournament.

Payson is scheduled to play tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7:30 p.m. in Camp Verde High School gym against Maricopa.

At 11 a.m. the following day, Payson takes on Mayer in the same gym.

Later that evening, tournament games will be played for first through six places.

The Horns will be seeded into one of those games based on their won-loss record in the opening contests.

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