It's out of the fryin' pan and into the fire for the Payson High boys basketball team.
With the holiday and the season-opening round of games at an end, the Horns begin pursuit of what they are hoping will be a top-four East region finish and a berth in the state tournament to begin Feb. 13.
Payson tips off the 2001 campaign with a 2-2 East record (8-6 overall) but has the opportunity to climb past the break-even mark this weekend in Wilson Dome.
Friday, the Horns play host to Round Valley a team that is projected to be a solid contender for a state tourney berth. Things won't get any easier for Payson the following evening when a rough-and-tumble Show Low team visits Payson.
If the Horns can emerge victorious over both the Elks and Cougars, they'd stamp themselves legitimate contenders for regional honors.
After jumping out to a 2-0 East start with wins over Holbrook and Pinnacle, the Horns stumbled in their final two regional outings of 2000, losing to both Blue Ridge and Snowflake.
One of the keys to Longhorn success in the upcoming East schedule could be the three-point shooting of senior guard Tyler Pettet. The sharpshooting teenager proved he was more than capable of taking over a game Dec. 28 in an 88-76 overtime win over Tucson Pusch Ridge. Pettet finished with a game-high 23 points by cashing in on seven three balls, four of which came in the first quarter.
Point guard Brad Bynum has also turned in several excellent offensive games as evidenced by his 20 points in the 70-58 win over Holbrook Dec. 12.
When the Horn offense is looking to pound the ball down low, it's usually to Payson's version of a twin towers Mike Doss and Sterling White. During most of the work near the basket, they have proven to be consistent scores in the Horn O.
Doss scored in double figures in seven of the Horns' 14 games. Against Holbrook and Chino Valley, he turned in back-to-back games of 21 points.
White, who had a season high 22 points against Phoenix Camelback, has reached double figures in six games.
In attaining a winning record, the Horns have also benefited from stellar play at both ends of the floor from Steve Williamson, Dusty Brockett, Ky Bradley, David LaForge and others.
For the Horns to be successful during the East stretch run to the state tournament, the entire roster will need to contribute to the Payson cause.
Game times Friday and Saturday evening at 4:30 p.m. (frosh), 5:30 p.m. (jayvee) and 7:30 p.m. (varsity).