The first Class 4A boys basketball poll of the season is out and Longhorn players are scouring it with great interest.
Pinnacle (5-2), a team the Longhorns will play Dec. 10 in the North Scottsdale, is ranked third and has to its credit huge victories over Thunderbird, Apollo and Coconino.
Grand Canyon region championship favorite Page, is fourth ranked with a 2-0 record. The team's big man, James Anderson, is one of the best low post players in the conference.
The most surprising Grand Canyon region team has to be Cottonwood Mingus who is rated No. 8. The Marauders have jumped out to a 4-0 record and are moving up in the rankings.
Tucson Amphitheater, a team that has participated in the Payson summer tournament for the past 16 years, is ranked 10th with 2-1 credentials. The Panthers only loss was by one point to 5A sixth-ranked Tucson.
The ratings are early season only and they'll undoubtedly change greatly as the campaign moves forward. But, the rankings do provide a glimpse of which teams have a shot at region and conference honors.
Finally, a match
The Payson High School varsity wrestlers must be foaming at the bit waiting for the opportunity to wrestle an opponent other than a teammate.
Since preseason practices opened Nov. 1, the matmen have not had a competitive match and instead have spent the time locked in tedious practice sessions.
The Horns long wait comes to an end Wednesday when Chinle, Blue Ridge and Show Low visit Wilson dome for a meet. Start time is 1 p.m.
The Horns opponents could provide some much needed competition. Chinle, a reservation school, has built a reputation the last few years as a wrestling stronghold. It's extremely unusual for a Navajo and Hopi reservation team to be known as a good grappling squad. At those rural schools, athletes focus on basketball, not wrestling. Blue Ridge is an unknown, but does have a stable of fine athletes as evidenced by their 3A state football championship.
Show Low has long been a wrestling power that has given Payson fits. A few years ago, the Cougars upset Payson for the state title.
Assistant coach Dar Ridgley, long a part of the Cougar program, predicts this year's team won't be as powerful as past squads unless younger wrestlers develop quickly.
Town of Payson Recreation Specialist Charlene Hunt continues to scour the community in search of volunteer youth coaches for third- and fourth-grade boys and girls basketball teams.
Duties include coaching youth teams during Saturday games and also during week day practice sessions as scheduled by the coach. Anyone interested should visit the parks and recreation offices at Green Valley Park to fill out a coach's form. Player registration ends Dec. 15. League play begins Jan. 8, 2005. For further information, call Hunt at (928) 474-5242, ext. 268.