Only a few hours before tip off Tuesday evening in Wilson Dome against Fountain Hills, Payson High boys basketball coach Mike Loutzenheiser fretted over his team's health.
Starting center Mike Barr, who had been counted on to shoulder much of the scoring and rebounding load, was playing in his first game after being sidelined for more than a week by illness.
Nathan Accord would not play due to illness, and several other players were slowed by the flu bug.
As the coach had anticipated, the struggling Horns were no match for Fountain Hills in the 72-55 loss.
The Falcons roared out to a 15-6 early lead and built it to 38-21 by halftime. Payson exchanged baskets with FH in the second half, but could never erase the margin the Falcons had built early in the game.
Seeing limited playing time, Barr finished with six points. Waylon Pettet and Ky Bradley led Payson in scoring with 10 points each. Matt Woolwine finished with nine, Nick Cassuto had six and Jake Swartwood tallied four.
With the loss, Payson fell to 0-2.
Playing without the team's starting center and tallest player 6-foot, 5-inch sophomore Mike Barr the Longhorns made their season debut Nov. 20 on a sour note, losing 58-40 to the homestanding Winslow Bulldogs.
Barr, who was being counted on in preseason to provide much of the team's rebounding and interior defense, didn't make the trip to Winslow due to an illness that kept him out of practice all week.
Without Barr's defensive presence, the Horns fell behind early 18-8 and then struggled the remainder of the game to make up the deficit.
Without a double-digit scorer in the line-up, Loutzenheiser didn't have the top gun to call upon who could instantly heat up the nets.
Senior Ky Bradley and junior Waylon Pettet led the team in scoring with nine points each.
Nicki Cassuto finished with eight and brother Alex had five. Steele Owens chipped in with four points.
The Horns returned to the Winslow hardwood last evening (Thursday) in the Ames Ford Shootout that has drawn some of the best teams from Northern Arizona. The Horns first round opponent was Flagstaff Coconino (results not available at press time). The tournament continues in Winslow today and tomorrow.