Just when the Longhorns seemed to be back on track, the team ran into trouble, which has coach Mike Loutzenheiser searching for answers.
"We are what we are," he said. "Right now, we are not very good. We are having trouble scoring."
In the Horns' 56-48 win over Estrella Foothills -- Dec. 27 and 28 during the opening round of the Bradshaw Mountain Invitational --ayson seemed to have found the offensive spark it didn't have early in the season.
But throughout the remainder of the tournament, the Horns (3-12) fell back into their offensive doldrums dropping four consecutive games.
The Bradshaw skid included losses to Glendale Apollo, 47-39, Sandra Day O'Conner, 64-51, Burbank, Calif., 43-32 and Notre Dame Academy, 52-40.
In the Longhorns trio of wins this season, the team has thrived on double-digit scoring from at least three players.
Conversely, in Longhorn losses the team traditionally struggles with just one or two players contributing offensively.
In the win over Estrella, Donnie Wilbanks, Brian Schwind and Darren Daniels proved to be the offensive threats. Wilbanks finished with 16 points, Schwind had 13 and Daniels contributed 10.
But in the loss to Apollo, only Wilbanks -- a senior forward -- was a scoring threat. He finished with 17 points to tie Apollo's Brandon Williams for game scoring honors.
The tournament loss to Burbank was the toughest for Loutzenheiser and his players to deal with. After leading 25-23 at halftime, the Horns scored just five points in the third quarter and two in the fourth stanza. Wilbanks led the anemic PHS attack with nine points.
Against Notre Dame, a team Payson lost to 54-36 in a Nov. 22 season-opener, only Schwind was much of an offensive threat finishing with a team-high 11 points.
The Payson cause also was thwarted by a poor effort, 11 for 28, from the free-throw line. Notre Dame cashed in on 23 of 29 attempts.
With the preseason tune-up games now behind them, Loutzenheiser and his players begin pursuit of Grand Canyon region honors at 7 p.m. Tuesday against visiting Coconino.
The Panthers won the championship of the Bradshaw tournament and are expected to be one of the region teams that will battle for the championship.
The Page Sand Devils are another region favorite. Page has on its roster one of the state's finest players -- James Anderson.
The Horns host Page Jan. 15 and wrap up the season Feb. 5 in Page. Game time for both is 7 p.m.