Devils, Long Ride Hobble Horns

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A humbling 44-24 defeat is not the ideal way to cap off a six-hour school bus ride through a blinding snowstorm.

Coach Mike Loutzenheiser and the Longhorn boys basketball team suffered just that Jan. 3 in Page.

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In the Longhorns' 51-40 loss to Flagstaff Coconino Jan. 6 in Wilson Dome, Andy Sargent (33) scored 11 points for Payson. Only Mike Barr with 12 points was more prolific.

Following the tiring journey over the Rim, through Flagstaff and along narrow Northern Arizona reservation roads, the team could never get its offense untracked against the homestanding Dust Devils.

"I'm sure the (bus) ride had something to do with it, but we just couldn't score," Loutzenheiser said. "We had open shots, they just didn't fall.

The coach realized early on that the evening was not going to be a good one for Payson.

"We fell behind about 10 points early in the game and could never make it up," he said. Page led 12-4 at the end of the opening quarter and 25-14 at halftime.

Payson's leading scorer Mike Barr was held to five points -- his lowest point production in the past two seasons. Three of those points came from a spot he doesn't often shoot from -- beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc.

Loutzenheiser attributed some of the team's ineffectiveness to the presence of the Dust Devil's 6-foot, 10-inch center James Anderson.

Kyle Hubbard's seven points led the anemic offensive attack. Donnie Wilbanks and Andy Sargent finished with five points each.

The Longhorns (6-9, 0-1) will have the opportunity to reverse the tables on Page Jan. 17 when the Dust Devils travel to Wilson Dome for a 7 p.m. game. If the Horns are to make a run at a regional crown and a berth in the season-ending state tournament, it's imperative the team splits 1-1 with the Devils. An 0-2 season showing against a regional opponent would be a crimp on Payson's playoff aspirations.

But before the players can begin thinking of revenge against Page, they'll need to take care of Grand Canyon business today (Friday) when Chinle comes to town. Varsity tip off is 7 p.m. in the dome. The game will be preceded by freshman (4 p.m.) and JV (5:30 p.m.) clashes.

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