The Arizona Interscholastic Association has released the 4A conference boys and girls Arizona State Basketball Tournament brackets.
The tournament, which will be held in five rounds, tips off Feb. 17 with eight qualifying games. Winners will advance to the sweet 16 round Feb. 18. The elite eight lock horns Feb. 20.
Winners of those games earn berths in the prestigious final four to be played Feb. 20 in America West Arena. Payson has never had a boys or girls basketball team reach the final four since the tournament has been played in America West.
When the 1979 boys team won the state title, the game was played at Arizona State University.
Many a PHS team, including past Lady Longhorn squads coached by Jerry Daniels, set their sights on playing in America West only to see their aspirations fall one game short.
The 4A girls state championship game is slated for 5:07 p.m. Feb. 28. The 4A boys title game tips off at 7:07 p.m. that same day.
If the Lady Longhorns advance to state with a third seed, the team will play Feb. 17 against the Desert Sky region's runner-up. Desert Sky schools are Apollo, Cactus Shadows, Cortez, Greenway, Independence, Lake Havasu and Notre Dame Prep.
But, before the Lady Longhorns can look forward to a state visit, the team will have to qualify at the Grand Canyon regional tournament Feb. 10 to 14. The top three finishers from the tournament earn seeds to state.
Because the Grand Canyon region is home to a trio of state-ranked teams -- Page, Flagstaff and Sinagua -- the Lady Longhorns' state quest will be a tough test.
If the Longhorn boys can qualify with at least a bronze-medal showing in the regional tournament, the team would open state action at 7 p.m. Feb. 17 against the Wells Fargo regional runner-up. Wells Fargo schools include Bradshaw Mountain, Cactus, Centennial, Pinnacle, Prescott and Shadow Mountain.