With the seven Grand Canyon Region girls basketball teams scrambling for postseason playoff seeding, the results of a Saturday game pitting Payson against Page could play a huge role in the Lady Horns' hardwood future.
If the team can defeat the Sand Devils, now the runner-up behind league-leading and state No. 2 ranked Sinagua, Payson would cling to the third place it now holds. Payson would then open the postseason tournament Feb. 8 in Wilson Dome against the region's No. 6 finisher, possibly Coconino.
If the Lady Horns lose to Page and possibly fall to fourth, they would still open in the dome, but against the GCR No. 5 finisher, maybe Chinle. Mingus is expected to finish as the cellar dweller and possibly play Page in the first round.
"Without the final results from Saturday in, that's the way the playoffs look right now," Payson High School coach Rory Huff said.
Following the first round, action in the single-elimination GCR tournament continues Feb. 11 and 12. The top three teams in the GCR finals advance to the 4A state tournament set to begin Feb. 14.
In the regular season-ending days leading up to the regional tournament, the Lady Horns have been involved in a flurry of games that had to be rescheduled from earlier in the season when inclement weather forced postponement. Among those GCR clashes were two Lady Horns' wins over Coconino, 56-32, and Chinle, 78-49, but a 60-30 loss to Sinagua.
In whipping Coconino, Jan. 26 in Wilson Dome, the Lady Horns rode 22 points from Krystal McRae and 10 from Danielle O'Haver to the triumph. Payson jumped out to an early 12-7 lead and expanded it to 28-17 at halftime. Any doubt as to which squad would be victorious was erased in the third quarter when the Lady Horns outscored Coconino 18-3.
Two days later during a parents' night showdown against Chinle in Wilson Dome, McRae again had the hot hand scoring a game-high 20 points in the Lady Horns' victory. Autumn Herrera contributed 14 points and Tanya Davis and Haylee Huff had seven each.
Huff turned in a point guard dream outing with eight rebounds, recording three steals and dishing out 10 assists.
Britney Owens led the battle of the boards with a team-high 10 rebounds, seven of the them on the defensive end.
In losing to homestanding Sinagua Feb. 1, the Lady Horns failed to solve the mystery of the Mustangs half-court trap early in the game.
In pre-game preparations, coach Huff prepared his charges for the trap, but the players couldn't break it.
The Lady Horns' loss was one of six that Payson teams suffered on an evening when Sinagua was red hot.