The 2002 version of the Girls Holiday Hoops Basketball Tournament will soon bring 20 of the state's best teams to Payson.
Among the Class 5A teams that will participate Dec. 27 and 28 are Tucson Canyon del Oro, Tempe Marcos de Niza, Phoenix Camelback, Mesa Westwood and Gilbert. Those big school teams, which sport lofty reputations, might find more than their match when they take to the floor against a foursome of talented Northern Arizona reservation schools.
Among those are teams from Tuba City, Many Farms, Rough Rock and Hopi.
On the Hopi and Navajo reservations, where basketball has long been the most revered high school sport, athletes play a brand of run-and-gun basketball that is exciting to watch and difficult to defend.
Local fans will be on hand to cheer on the Lady Longhorns as they try to keep the Hoops championship trophy in the Rim country.
Payson will sport a young team that has only three seniors -- Ashli Herrera, Laura Crabtree and Trista Carlton.
With six sophomores playing considerable minutes, coach Krystal Garvin is putting a crew of inexperienced players on the floor.
Action tips off for Payson at 10 a.m. in Wilson Dome against Canyon del Oro. A win would propel the team into a second round game at 1 p.m., also in the dome, against Rough Rock.
A loss would drop Payson into a consolation bracket game at 8:30 p.m. in the Tonto Apache Tribe gymnasium.
During the course of the tournament, games will also be played at the old PHS gymnasium.
The championship game is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28, in the dome. A showdown for the bronze medal will precede at 5:30 p.m.
The Lady Horns were to use a Dec. 17 game against Holbrook to tune up for the tournament. The clash, however, was postponed due to the threat of a severe snowstorm that was supposed to hit northern Arizona.