Months ago, coach Shaun Hardt and his Lady Longhorns knew all too well that the Tuba City Warrior basketball express was steaming toward a three-peat.
The Warriors won their third consecutive state championship, defeating Chandler Seton 42-32 Saturday at America West Arena.
Hardt and the Horns received their first taste of rough and tumble Warrior medicine in the championship game of Payson Holiday Hoops tournament. In that for-all-the-tournament-marbles showdown, Tuba City ran by the Lady Horns 58-32.
Just weeks later, the Lady Horns had the unenviable task of traveling to Tuba City for a nonregion showdown against the then two-time defending champs.
Although Payson staged a tremendous fourth-quarter comeback, the Lady Horns fell 54-43.
Both teams went on to have banner seasons, but Tuba City's (27-5) campaign didn't end until Saturday when the team claimed the 3A crown.
The Lady Horns were ousted from the state tournament in a quarterfinal loss to Seton.
Hardt and the players can take some solace in the fact that it took the two PREMIER teams in the state to beat them.
Bears on a roll
Basketball fans from around Arizona are wondering just how good the Coolidge boys basketball team really is.
The team finished the season 32-0 and defeated South region rival Globe 50-47 in the state championship finale played Saturday at America West Arena.
Some bipartisan fans who watched the championship contest left the arena predicting Coolidge was good enough to play on even terms with the best teams from 4A and 5A ranks.
Coolidge was led all season by guard Randy Youtsey, who finished his career with 2,346 points, fifth best in Arizona history.
Fans will never know if Coolidge could be successful in the big school ranks because Arizona holds its state tournaments in school-size classification brackets. In some Midwestern states, all schools regardless of size compete in one final tournament.
Winning the basketball championship will help take a little of the sting off of the Bears 58-0 state football championship loss to the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets.
Taking to the outdoors
The Becoming an Outdoors-Woman in Arizona spring workshop will be held April 5 to 7 at Friendly Pines Camp in Prescott.
Payson High School alumnus Mary Pendleton, a coordinator of the workshop, says the event is an excellent opportunity for women 18-years-and-older to learn outdoors skills usually associated with hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.
The objective of the program is to provide women with an opportunity to learn basic outdoor skills in a fun, nonthreatening manner.
To receive an application or for information, visit the website at www.azwildlife.org. or call (480) 644-0077.