When Krystal Garvin’s Lady Longhorns take to the Wilson Dome floor at 7 p.m. this evening (Tuesday) against Fountain Hills, the rookie head coach will be looking for her first varsity win.
After outscoring Chino Valley in a controlled scrimmage Nov. 21, the Lady Longhorns have dropped back-to-back decisions to Camp Verde, 66-52 and Winslow, 47-38.
The good news in that 0-2 start is that since neither CV or Winslow are members of the East region, the games’ outcomes have no effect on Payson’s aspirations of earning a berth in the state tournament when it begins Feb. 11.
Tonight’s showdown against the Falcons also will have no bearing on state seeding, nor will the results of the River Valley Tournament Dec. 5 to 7.
In a scheduling oddity, the Lady Horns do not have an East region contest until Jan. 10 when the Snowflake Lobos visit Wilson Dome. After that date, Payson plays nine consecutive regional games. The outcome of those crucial clashes will determine the Lady Horns state tournament fate.
With six non-region games and two tournaments on the slate before East play tips off, Garvin says she has ample time to acclimate the PHS players to her new system. Although she has coached both boys and girls freshmen and jayvee teams, Garvin has only been at the helm of the varsity program since early fall.
The Payson School District governing board named Garvin the PHS girls basketball head coach after Shaun Hardt resigned to take over the Round Valley High School football program.
Although Garvin will not make any huge changes in the Lady Horns program, she says she will use the upcoming nonregion and tournament games to implement her philosophy and prepare the team for a run a regional and state honors.
In the Nov. 26 loss to Winslow, the Lady Horns couldn’t defend the long range shooting of Bulldog sharpshooters. Because Winslow is the site of a Native American boarding school, coach Don Petronovich’s Bulldogs have traditionally featured some of the best Navajo and Hopi hoop talent in Northern Arizona.
Those players, who usually call the basketball court their second home, are capable of hoisting three-pointers from anyplace inside the gym.
In outscoring Payson 19-10 in the first quarter, the Dogs made good on a trio of three-balls. In the second stanza, Winslow hit another three-pointer from beyond the 19-feet, 9-inch arc.
Although Winslow was red hot, Ashli Herrera’s 10 first-half points kept the Lady Horns within striking distance, 31-23.
The third quarter turned into a low-scoring affair that saw Winslow sink only a single three-pointer and Payson go without a field goal.
Trailing 36-25 early in the fourth, Payson could never mount the offense to close the scoring gap the Bulldogs had built in the first quarter.
Throughout the game, officials Tim Fruth and Bill Schwind were kept busy ticketing overly aggressive Winslow players.
The Lady Dogs were whistled for 24 fouls which resulted in 26 Payson free throws.
The Lady Horns, however, were their own worst enemy hitting only 12 of the freebies.
Improving a 46-percent free-throw percentage will probably become one of Garvin’s coaching goals.
Although the Lady Horns struggled at the charity stripe, the team did receive a well-rounded offensive effort from Ashli Herrera and Trista Carlton. Herrera posted 12 points and Carlton had 11.
Krystal McRae finished with five points and sophomore guard Tanya Davis had four.
Autumn Herrera, who led the team with 18 points in the loss to Camp Verde, was held to just one point.
Because the Lady Horns lost their top two scorers from last season hitney Hardt and Brandi Waugh Garvin has made finding players who can take up the offensive slack a top priority.