Life among the beasts of the East turns even more demanding this weekend when the Longhorn boys' and girls' basketball teams take on two of the division's best in back-to-back games.
Friday, the Rim country hoop teams travel to Lakeside where they'll battle the homestanding Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets. The following evening, the Show Low Cougars visit Wilson dome for a divisional showdown that could have huge consequences in the final standings.
The rule in the East division has long been that to be a contender in the championship race, a team must win its home games and hope for as many breakthroughs as possible on the road.
The teams with the most breakthroughs usually emerge as the East's four seeds into the season-ending state tournament.
Both Horn squads will be looking to stay even Saturday evening with victories over the Cougars.
Road triumphs a day earlier over Blue Ridge would be simply be icing on the Longhorns' cake.
The boys' basketball team has struggled to a 3-8 record and will be looking to uncover an offensive and defensive attack that can play on even terms with Blue Ridge and Show Low.
With only one veteran on the roster -- Joe Sanchez -- the Horns have suffered all year from a lack of experience.
Also the team suffers from a lack of height with only one player, Sterling White, 6 foot, 4 inches or taller.
To be successful the team will have to play through the adversity and muster the rock-solid effort it takes to win in the East.
With Sanchez pulling the trigger from his point guard position, offensive help could come from a variety of players including Andrew Eastman, Keith Stevens and David LaForge.
Defensively, the individual players have to accept the challenge of shutting down their opponent in coach Randy Wilcox's man-to-man defensive scheme.
The Lady Horns
Like their male counterparts, the Lady Longhorns are going through a youth movement.
However, the girls are a bit more well armed in that they have a trio of veterans -- Bryn Wilkins, Sidney Swartwood and Rheanna Martinez -- to provide leadership for the rookies.
Also, a pair of the younger players in the lineup, sophomores Brandi Waugh and Jennifer Plumb, are more seasoned than their school year indicates. Both saw considerable playing time as freshmen.
Another sophomore, LeeAnn Owens, was a jayvee performer most of last year but has shown the tenacity necessary to succeed on the varsity level.
Freshman Ashli Herrera opened the season with only middle school and youth league play experience, but has practiced well enough to earn duty as both a starter and reserve. Several other youngsters in the lineup can play varsity ball if called upon. They include Raeann Burba, Ashley Grubbs and Mackenzie Herrera.
Against Blue Ridge and Show Low, the varsity girls will play at 6 p.m. and the varsity boys at 7:30 p.m. Both encounters will be preceded by freshmen and jayvee contest.
After taking on Show Low and Blue Ridge, the Horn teams will have a full week of practice to prepare for the next East encounter Jan. 14 in Wilson dome against the Round Valley Elks.