When the 1999 girls' basketball campaign tipped off in late November, the always tough Snowflake Lobos was one of teams expected to challenge the Lady Longhorns for the East division championship.
But the expected dominance of the Lobos came to a screeching halt after the Horns pulled off a stunning 60-54 upset Jan. 4 in Wilson dome
The East race took another unexpected turn Friday evening in the dome when the Round Valley Elks ended the Horns, 4-0 unblemished streak with a 57-40 triumph.
With the victory, the 5-0 Lady Elks have now taken over the East region lead and are in firm control of their own destiny. For the Horns to get back into contention, they'll have to pull off an upset of major proportions when the two teams clash again Jan. 22 in the Eagar Round Valley dome.
"That rematch will be huge for us," PHS coach Jerry Daniels said.
The coach lauded the Lady Elks as a good team, but also said almost every one of his charges suffered through an off night.
"We just struggled with everything we did," Daniels said.
Unable to put the clamps on the Elks' stellar three-point shooting and the solid inside play of 5-foot, 11-inch Robin Adair, the Horns were never a threat to continue unbeaten in the East.
Before the Horns can focus on the rematch in Round Valley, the team must find ways to slip past Alchesay Whiteriver this evening (Jan. 18) in Wilson dome.
Daniels predicts the Falcons will bring a talented squad capable of returning to their Apache reservation homes with a victory.
"They took Round Valley into overtime, so you know their pretty good," the coach said.
Like past Alchesay teams, the Falcons rely on pressure defense and a run-and-gun offense for victories. Their spirited style of lightening quick play is usually tough for opponents to deal with and equally as exciting to watch.
The Horns, which now sports a 12-4 record, will counter Alchesay with the one-two inside combination punch of Rheanna Martinez and Sidney Swartwood.
All season, the two veterans have shouldered much of the team's scoring and rebounding load.
Martinez was the leading scorer in the loss to RV finishing with 16 points.
In the win over Snowflake, Swartwood proved she was a highly capable defender, holding Lobo star Becky Elkins to just 10 points
Swartwood and Martinez have been the stalwarts most of the season, but the Longhorn lineup also sports several young players capable of lighting up the scoreboard on any given night. The talented kiddie corp set includes sophomores Jennifer Plumb, Brandi Waugh, LeeAnn Owens and freshman Ashli Hererra.
Kaitlan Wilkins, Jamie Peace, and Stormi Ewing lend depth to the Horn lineup.
Regular season play for the Lady Horns wraps up Feb. 1 in Show Low. Regional tournament play begins Feb. 8.