A 53-39 triumph over Round Valley Saturday evening put the skids on the Lady Longhorn's three-game losing streak that featured a humbling 71-45 defeat to the Snowflake Lobos a day earlier.
With the split, which came in Wilson Dome, the Lady Longhorns stand 1-1 in East play (12-5 overall) with another regional clash on the agenda for today (Tuesday) against Whiteriver Alchesay. Game time is 6 p.m. in Whiteriver.
The team continues its quest to earn a top-four East finish and a berth in the state tournament Friday at Lakeside Blue Ridge and Saturday in Show Low.
For PHS assistant coach Terry Klein, a longtime prep coach in the Midwest who recently retired to Payson, the prospect of three consecutive road games is not appealing.
But, he said, the games are on the schedule and the team must play them with all the tenacity it can muster if it's going to stay in the playoff chase.
Whatever scenario unfolds this week, head coach Shaun Hardt is hoping it won't bear any resemblance to the game the Lady Horns turned in against Snowflake.
"It was our worst game of the year," he said. The reason: "It was turnovers. We had 15 of them in the first quarter."
The lapse in offensive execution allowed the Lobos to jump out to a 26-point lead from which the Lady Horns could never recover.
"We played them even in the second half, but the first (half) killed us," Hardt said.
About the only bright spot in the loss was the offensive production of sophomore point guard Whitney Hardt. With 19 points, she was the only Lady Horn to score in double figures. Trista Carlton finished with eight points, Brandi Waugh had six and Haylee Huff contributed four.
By whipping Round Valley the following evening, the Lady Horns proved they have what it takes to bounce back from a solid case of adversity.
"This was our best game of the year," the coach said. "It was a good effort (in which) everyone played well."
Clinging to a precarious 12-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, Payson went on a 21-4 scoring run in the second. With a 33-15 halftime lead in their back pockets, the team was never threatened in the second half.
Following the game, Klein lauded Ashli Herrera, who scored seven points, for her spirited play at both ends of the floor. The past several weeks, Herrera has been slowed by an injured thumb that must be taped before each game. In the win over RV, Klein said, she shook off the injury and turned in one of her best games of the season.
With 15 points, Waugh led the Payson scoring parade. Center Brook McRae also had a stellar effort, scoring 11 points. Whitney finished with eight.
The losing streak that ended Saturday began Jan. 5 with a 48-43 loss to Tuba City and continued Jan. 8 when state top-ranked Winslow thumped the Horns 50-26. That was a rough stretch for the Horns because Tuba City, Winslow and Snowflake are all projected to be state championship contenders.