After a sluggish first half Friday evening in Wilson Dome, the Longhorn boys basketball team came alive to beat Camp Verde 59-16.
At halftime, Payson led only 20-10.
“We didn’t do a whole lot that impressed me,” coach Mike Loutzenheiser said. “We were playing street ball and not running our offense or playing good defense.”
That all changed in the third stanza after Nick Cassuto found the hot hand that has made him the team’s leading scorer. In the rally, the senior forward who once starred for tiny Tonto Village’s Shelby School scored 15 of his game-high 20 points.
“He was huge for us,” Loutzenheiser said.
The coach credited the second half turnaround to “finally running our system and being patient.”
Before the game finally churned to a merciful end, 10 of the 11 players on the Longhorn roster had scored. Chris Donaldson finished with nine points and Derek Daniels and Nate Perna had seven each. Jake Swartwood tallied five.
The game marked the return of Trevor LaHaye, who has been sidelined with a broken leg.
In the game, LaHaye saw his first varsity action.
With the win, the Horns improved their credentials to 2-1. The Horns begin East regional action Jan. 10 in Wilson Dome against Snowflake.