The Lady Longhorn basketball team continues its pursuit of a Grand Canyon regional championship and a berth in postseason play at 5:30 p.m. this evening (Friday) in Wilson Dome.
Payson's opponent, Chinle, is touted has having the best team it has had in recent years.
"That's what we were told when we were in Page (Jan. 3)," coach Rory Huff said. "We're expecting a tough game."
The coach also is hoping his players come up with a better rebounding effort against Chinle than in the humbling 56-23 loss to Page.
"Even though we had a much taller team, Page dominated the boards at both ends of the court," Huff said.
The Lady Horn offense, which generated a season-low 23 points, also struggled.
The coach is anticipating that the loss to Page -- the Grand Canyon region champions six of the past seven seasons -- will produce dividends down the road.
"The game gave our girls a glimpse of what level they will have to step up to win or compete in the 4A Grand Canyon region," Huff said.
A Lady Longhorn strong point in early season play and during the Holiday Hoops tournament (Dec. 29 and 30) has been a solid defense that includes man-to-man pressure.
If that defense can force Chinle into turnovers and miscues, Payson's chances of a victory increase greatly.
Because Chinle is a Northern Arizona school, fans can expect the team to heat up Wilson Dome with the exciting run-and-gun style that is a popular offense among reservation teams. That means Lady Longhorn point guard Haylee Huff will have to make the decision when she wants the team to try and run with Chinle. If the fast break is not there, she'll need to pull the ball out and set up the half-court offense.
In the fast break, reservation-style of basketball, physical conditioning plays a huge role in the outcome of games.
If Payson's starters wear down, replacements will have to come off the bench and perform under pressure.
Another key to a Payson victory will rest with uncovering a well-balanced scoring attack in which veterans Kodi Kepp, Autumn Herrera, Krystal McRae, Tanya Davis, Britney Owens and Haylee Huff contribute. Newcomers Danielle O'Haver, Kendra Francis, Tracy Fitzpatrick and Denise Nottingham also will be counted on to supply much-needed offense.
Action for the Lady Horns continues at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) at Flagstaff High School.