The fate of the Lady Longhorns state tournament bid will be decided in the next three weeks.
During that time period, the team plays nine crucial 4A Grand Canyon region games -- three each week.
Now sporting an 11-5 overall record and a 1-2 GCR slate, the Lady Horns are one of three teams in the hunt for the region championship.
The other two title contenders, state No. 2 ranked Sinagua and Page, have both racked up wins over Payson.
The Lady Horns also have a victory over Page that doesn't count in the GCR standings because it occurred in a tournament. The PHS win, by a 50-33 measure, was chalked up in the championship game of the Holiday Hoops invitational.
In the Sand Devils' region win, Jan. 15 in Wilson dome, by a 64-39 count, the visitors' pressure defense proved to be too much for the Lady Horns to overcome. Only senior center Britney Owens scored in double figures with 12 points.
"She had her best game of the season," coach Rory Huff said. Krystal McRae finished with nine points and Tracy Fitzpatrick had eight.
As a team, the Lady Horns, made good on just 12 of 40 two-point shot attempts and were 0-for-5 from three-point land. From the line, the team was a respectable 15 for 23. Autumn Herrera made 5-of-6 free throws.
While the Lady Horns were struggling to score, Page's onslaught was paced by 20 points from Natasha Begay. The Sand Devils' shooting star, who was a member of the Holiday Hoops All-Tournament team, made good on four three-pointers and was 6-for-6 from the line. As good as Begay was, she wasn't a one-player show. Of the 11 players on the Page roster, nine broke into the scoring column.
The Lady Horns will have to wait until a regular season ending clash, Feb. 5 in Page, for the opportunity to avenge the loss to the Sand Devils.
The Lady Horns return to action at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday against Mingus in Wilson dome.
On Jan. 20, Payson visits Coconino and the following day will be at Flagstaff. The showdown against Flagstaff was originally scheduled for Jan. 8, but was postponed due to inclement weather.