Season Opener Shows Need For Settling Time

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Youthful mistakes and miscues cost the Lady Longhorns the opportunity to post a season opening win Nov. 23 at Fountain Hills.

Following the 54-50 loss, coach Rory Huff said, "We have only three players who played varsity last year and we are still working to get team chemistry, especially with the young players."

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Lady Longhorn Kendra Francis scrambles after a loose ball in Payson's Nov. 23 54-50 loss to homestanding Fountain Hills. Francis has returned to the team after a year of rehabilitating following a severe knee injury.

Evidence the rookies need more seasoning reared its head offensively and at the free throw line.

"We missed several easy shots that would have changed the outcome of the game," Huff said. "And we were five for 18 from the free throw line."

While the Lady Horns were misfiring from the line, FH was enjoying a good old-fashioned dish of home cooking. In a whopping 26 trips to the charity stripe, the Lady Falcons cashed in on 16 of the freebies.

In addition to the Lady Horns' struggle at the line, the Rim hardwooders wilted under the defensive pressure of FH's full court press.

"It caused several turnovers that resulted in easy baskets," Huff said.

Tori Wilbanks, one of the trio of returning letter winners, led the Lady Horns with 14 points.

Christina Deaton, a freshman who this time last year was starring on the Rim Country Middle School team, scored 12 points in her high school debut.

Deaton also led the team on the boards with 13 rebounds, Kendra Francis and Wilbanks corralled 10 missed shots each. Francis was also the floor general with a team high four assists and two steals.

Although the Lady Horns stumbled in the opener, Huff saw signs of hope.

"The girls really hustled and worked hard; they just couldn't convert," he said.

Junior varsity action

On the junior varsity front, the Lady Horns easily romped over Fountain Hills, 64-16.

"It was a tough defensive performance, the defense and rebounds were the key," coach Carol Hayes said.

Kayla O'Donnell led all scorers with 14 points, Marquel Waterman tallied 13, Lana Cluff had 10 and Sage Hallman contributed eight.

The freshman team did not play.

The Lady Horns hosted Scottsdale Christian Nov. 28 in Wilson dome. (Results not available at press time).

Nov. 29, the Lady Horns will host Sedona. Game times at 4 (freshmen), 5:30 (junior varsity) and 7 p.m. (varsity).

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