It took a traveling Australian All-Star team to derail Lady Longhorn hopes of winning the River Valley Invitational tournament.
The team from Down Under, Lady Horn coach Rory Huff said, "was loaded with talent" having scoured the entire country to select the players.
In the first meeting of the two teams, during opening day pool play, Australia whipped Payson 64-50. Two days later, in what was the opening round of a single elimination tournament, Payson again fell to the team from Down Under 69-56.
The fact that the two teams were in the same pool and met in the first round of the tournament had Huff scratching his head in disbelief.
"Somebody made a real snafu," he said. "They (Australia) were No. 1 in the pool and we were No. 2 ... there is no way we should have met in the first round."
Because Payson and the Australians were obviously the best two teams in the tournament, Huff called their second meeting "the real championship game."
Sandwiched between the two losses to Australia were a 47-34 victory against Mohave and a 58-28 drubbing of Laughlin, Nev.
The win over Mohave was particularly impressive in that the Thunderbirds entered the game undefeated.
In the victory, Danielle O'Haver finished with 14 points, senior point guard Haylee Huff had 10 and Krystal McRae finished with nine.
Against Laughlin, Tanya Davis led all scorers with 16 points.
In the opening round loss to Australia, McRae -- who played both center and forward -- tallied 12. O'Haver chalked up eight points which included two three-pointers. Owens also had eight.
In the second round loss to the crew from Down Under, Davis tallied 20 and Tori Wilbanks had 15.
In a voting of coaches, Haylee Huff was named to the all-tournament team.
Coach Huff praised the team for playing with intensity and a strong work ethic. "They played super hard," he said.
The team took yesterday off from practice, but is scheduled to return to the hardwood Tuesday to prepare for a Dec. 10 clash in Wilson Dome against Pinnacle.
The following day, the Lady Horns travel to Prescott. Tip off for all games are 4 p.m. (freshmen), 5:30 p.m. (jayvee) and 7 p.m. (varsity).