Friday evening's 45-40 victory over highly regarded Valley Christian stamped the Lady Longhorns a solid contender for the East region crown.
Valley Christian, one of the better small school programs in the state, entered the game in Wilson Dome having beaten East region kingpin Round Valley by four points.
A victory over a team like VCleft Lady Longhorn coach Shaun Hardt breathless.
"(Beating VC) was awesome," he said. "It was a scary game, but now the kids know they can play with teams like Round Valley."
The coach attributed much of the victory to an overall team effort and spirited support from the reserves who supplied plenty of vocal support from the bench.
For PHS assistant coach Terry Klein, a 27-year veteran of high school coaching in Iowa, the Lady Horn defense was a key to the win.
"One of our goals all year long has been to hold teams to 40 or less points ... we've been doing that," he said.
All evening, the staff mixed up the Lady Horn defenses using both a matchup 1-2-2 zone and man-to-man pressure.
Offensively, the Lady Horns were led by shooting guard Brandi Waugh who finished with 14 points. Although senior center Trista Carlton was playing ill, she finished with nine points. Whitney Hardt and Brooke McRae contributed six points each.
A 50-32 victory over Class 2A Heber Mogollon Dec. 13 wasn't a win of the magnitude of beating Valley Christian, but it was an opportunity to showcase a team effort that has been the strength of the Lady Horns all season.
After playing the Mustangs to an 8-8 tie in the first quarter, the Horns rode the second stanza scoring of Trista Carlton to a 27-8 halftime lead.
In the quarter, Carlton who finished with a team-high 14 points scored 10.
The fact the Mustangs opened on a strong note came as no surprise to the coach.
"We knew they were going to be pretty scrappy," he said. "We had to be patient and wear them down."
Heeding their coach's advice, the Lady Horns came out of the halftime locker room and put on a strong offensive and defensive showing in which they outscored Heber 18-2.
Leading 45-19 in the fourth quarter, Hardt emptied his bench.
In addition to Carlton's scoring, the Lady Horns got a season-high eight points from junior guard Laura Crabtree. Whitney Hardt and Brooke McRae finished with seven each. Ashli Herrera scored six.
In the battle of the boards, Carlton and McRae pulled down nine rebounds each.
Carlton and Crabtree paced the Horn defense with six steals each.
With six assists, Whitney was the floor leader.