The Lady Longhorns' 52-45 win Tuesday evening over the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets, coupled with Snowflake's 71-68 triumph over Round Valley the same day, puts an end to the drama of the East region championship chase.
With a 7-2 East record (18-6 overall), the Lady Horns will settle for a second-place regional finishing behind the East champion Lobos. Both Payson losses were to Snowflake.
The good news for PHS fans in the scenario is that the runner-up finish gives the Lady Horns a bye in the first round of the regional tournament and at least a fourth seed into the Class 3A state tournament.
The Lady Horns have one regular season game remaining, at 6 p.m. this evening (Friday) in Wilson Dome, against East cellar-dweller Show Low.
A loss to the visiting Cougars is extremely unlikely, but even if it occurred the results wouldn't affect the playoff seeding.
The regional tournament is set to begin Feb. 8 at Alchesay Whiteriver. The state tournament tips off Feb. 19 in Flagstaff and culminates Feb. 23 at America West Arena in Phoenix.
The Lady Horns have never reached the final four at America West.
In the win over Blue Ridge, the Lady Horns played only well enough to win.
"It wasn't one of our best games," coach Shaun Hardt said. "We struggled."
Early in the game, the teams traded baskets before Payson outscored the Yellow Jackets 29-26 in the second half.
The Lady Horns were led by double-digit scoring from Trista Carlton (17) and Brandi Waugh (14).