Coach Krystal Garvin no longer has to worry about how her Lady Horns would respond to a crushing 84-40 loss Jan. 7 to the Winslow Bulldogs.
They recovered from the embarrassing defeat just fine.
The first time back on the court after the loss, Friday night in Wilson Dome, the Lady Horns put together their most impressive showing of the year, whipping the Snowflake Lobos 66-59.
With the win, the Lady Horns are off and running to a 1-0 start in the East region title chase.
Although the loss at Winslow was tough to absorb, Garvin had an inkling the team was not about to fold.
"The two practices we had just before the (Snowflake) game were our best of the season," she said. "To me, the girls looked like they were mentally ready for Snowflake."
Early in the game, the Lady Horns had every opportunity to call it quits. Snowflake built an early 19-13 lead mostly because the Lady Horns were struggling offensively.
"I think we were a little too nervous early," Garvin said. "The girls wanted to prove themselves."
Midway through the second quarter, the Lady Horns settled down on both ends of the court. By halftime, Payson had closed the Snowflake lead to 25-24. Early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Horns had rallied to build a 40-34 cushion.
Some of the team's success might be attributed to Garvin's coaching strategy of having her players take the ball straight at the Lobos low post star -- 5-foot, 11-inch Megan Perkins.
"We wanted to frustrate her and I think we did," Garvin said.
Also on offense, the Lady Horns pushed the ball up and down the court, taking advantage of every flaw in the Snowflake defense. The biggest contributor on offense was Trista Carlton, who finished with a game-high 26 points. Ashli Herrera tallied 13 and sophomore guard Tanya Davis contributed nine.
Defensively, Garvin also made some subtle changes in the team's man-to-man coverage asking the players to fight through picks rather than switching. The Payson squad's zone also frequently frustrated the Lobos in that it kept the ball out of the low blocks where Perkins lurked.
Following the victory, Garvin called it a "mental one because we could have just hung our heads," after the defeat in Winslow and a gut-wrenching 54-52 loss to Tuba City days earlier.
The coach also lauded the players for not falling for the so-called Lobo mystique of being superior to Payson.
"In the past, even when we have had good teams, we have lost to Snowflake," she said. "This team chose not to do that."
The Lady Horns begin a three-game run at East today (Tuesday) when the squad travels to Eagar/Springervile to take on region championship favorite Round Valley.
Jan. 16, the East stint continues when the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets visit Wilson Dome. The Lady Horns wrap up the week Jan. 17 in Whiteriver against the Alchesay Falcons. Game times are 6 p.m.