An unsettling Winslow Shoot-Out scenario for coach Chuck Hardt was learning no members of the PHS boys squad were chosen to the all-tournament team.
"It's a travesty," he said. "I don't think any of our players got a sniff (in a post-tournament voting of coaches)."
In the balloting Dec. 3 at the conclusion of the tournament, coaches were allowed to cast 20 votes but could not select members of their own team.
Doubly tough for Hardt to understand is that PHS players received no recognition despite turning in a commendable performance that included a 3-1 record, a consolation championship and pushing state third-ranked Greyhills to the limit before falling 47-45.
"We did close to everything we could," Hardt said.
In the Dec. 1 tournament-opening loss to Greyhills, Payson had a golden opportunity to tie up the game on the final shot, but Jake Winans' attempt rimmed out at the buzzer.
"He had an open look, but it just didn't fall," Hardt said.
Throughout the hotly contested battle, the Horns were able to stay close mostly because of solid defensive work on Greyhills' returning all-state star LeDaniel Gishie.
Hounded by Brandon Buckner and Carlos Lopez, the normally high-scoring Gishie was held to a season-low six points.
Offensively, Brian Schwind led the team, sinking five of 10 shots from the field.
The loss to Greyhills dropped the Horns to 0-3 on the season, but was the team's final defeat of the tournament.
On a roll
During the course of the next two days of the shoot-out, Payson rebounded to whip traditionally tough St. Johns 71-50, Ganado 53-42 and Sedona 47-45.
In running past the Class 2A St. Johns Redskins, the Horns played unselfishly.
"Our ball movement was the best of the season," Hardt said. "Many times we had good shots, but made passes to teammates who had better shots."
Junior guard Bryson Addington, playing the role of floor general, dished out six assists.
Schwind led all scorers with 20 points, hitting nine of 12 shot attempts.
Brandon Buckner contributed 19 points, finishing with an impressive seven for 12 from the field and five for six from the line.
Defensively, a gritty Longhorn crew held St. Johns to 26 percent shooting and out-rebounded the Skins 46-36.
In whipping Ganado, the Horns called upon the guard duo of Miles Huff and Addington to engineer the PHS offense.
Hardt cited Huff for his floor leadership, Addington for his ability to run the offense and both for their unselfish play.
The Payson man-to-man defense also played a role shutting down the Hornets, which allowed the Horns to build a 37-10 halftime lead and never take a gander into the rear view mirror.
Offensively, Schwind tallied 11 points, Buckner had nine and Winans 11.
The Horns' two wins propelled the team into the consolation championship against a Sedona team that had edged Payson 40-38 just three days earlier.
The two foes' second go-around on the hardwood produced a two-point Horn win mostly because the players took a roll-up-your-sleeves, no-nonsense approach to rebounding and defense.
"We outworked Sedona on the boards; that and defense made the difference," Hardt said.
Some of the rebounding the Horns thrived on was supplied by 6-foot 7-inch sophomore Ollie Lewinson, who this time last season was starring for coach Kenny Hayes' freshmen.
If Lewinson rounds into the varsity player many are expecting, he and the 6-5 Schwind will give the Horns a lethal one-two punch down low.
Offensively, Huff and Winans, the team leaders in scoring with 12 points each, staged a long-range shooting clinic. Winans scored all his points from beyond the 19-foot 9-inch arc, and Huff swished a trio of three-point bombs.
The win, however, wasn't nailed down until the final seconds when Buckner calmly sank two clutch free throws.
The Longhorns jump back into tournament action Dec. 9-10 when they travel to Flagstaff to participate in the Pepsi Cola Shoot-Out.