Rekindling an old rivalry that will heat up again next school year when Payson High School returns to the 3A East region, the Longhorn boys basketball team dropped a 54-39 decision to the home standing Show Low Cougars.
Although the loss felled Payson to 0-4 on the year, coach Mike Loutzenheiser said he enjoyed returning to the east where there is plenty of fan support and crowds can be loud and vociferous.
"It's a good basketball atmosphere," the coach said. "But, I have a headache."
In the loss to the Cats, it was again an anemic offense that spelled the demise of the Longhorns.
The 39 points the team posted won't put too many varsity "Ws" in the team's scorebook. In early season losses, the Horns have scored only 45, 36 and 60 points. In the 60 points the Horns scored during an 11-point Nov. 30 loss to a very good Scottsdale Coronado team, the Horns had three players in double figures -- Daren Daniels (16), Donnie Wilbanks (15) and Andy Sargent (10).
Against Show Low, however, only Brian Schwind reached double digits with 12 points. Wilbanks contributed eight and Wellington Cassuto had seven.
If the Horns are to pick up their first victory of the season Wednesday when the Prescott Badgers visit Wilson Dome, more players must step up to shoulder the offensive load.
The Horns must also be more consistent offensively and not struggle in quarters when only four and six points are scored.
When that happens, as it did in the second stanza versus Show Low, the Horns dug a hole so deep it became almost impossible to climb out of.
Before playing host to Prescott Wednesday, Loutzenheiser has three days of practices to try and shore up the struggling offense.
Whether the coach and players are able to correct the maladies will be known against the visiting Badgers. Game time is 7 p.m.
In junior varsity action in Show Low the Longhorns improved to 3-1 with a 51-36 win over the Cougars.
Bryson Addington led all scorers with 15 points. Miles Huff tallied nine.
Coach Kenny Hayes' freshmen rolled to 4-0 posting a 64-50 victory over the Cougars.
Sharpshooting Levi Neal led all scorers with 18 points. Robert Walker and Ollie Lewinson tallied 13 apiece.
Following the win, Hayes praised his team as one that is quickly maturing on offense and defense.
"We are getting much better at both ends of the court," he said.
When teased by fellow coaches about his undefeated record, the rookie coach responded, "It rocks man, it rocks."
Looking for "Ws"
The varsity team's greatest opportunity to add wins to the victory column could be just over the horizon.
At the Bradshaw Mountain Invitational Holiday Tournament Dec. 27 to 29, the Horns are seeded into the opening round Red Pool with three schools not exactly considered basketball powerhouses. They include Sandra Day O'Connor, Apollo and Estrella Foothills. In the other pools are several small schools including Ash Fork, Mayer, Willow Canyon and Sedona.
The Horns play at 12:20 p.m. Monday, Dec. 27 vs. Estrella and at 5:20 p.m. against Apollo.
At 9 a.m. the following day, Payson plays Sandra Day O'Connor. The results of pool games will be used to seed the Longhorns into a double elimination tournament to be played Dec. 28 and 29.
Admission is $4 for a single day or $10 for an "all tournament" pass.