The Lady Longhorns basketball team used the Phoenix Christian Tournament this past week as a way to gain more experience for play in the 3A East Region.
In the 12-team tournament, Payson went 3-1, pushing their record for the year to 6-1.
On Thursday morning, the Lady Longhorns dominated Maricopa, a 2A team, 50-24.
Kayla Morgan led Payson with 12 points and Jenna Robertson chipped in 11.
Payson coach Grant Coley said his team played very well, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
He said the defeat was a direct result of the defense his team employed, adding that it took Maricopa out of its game.
Offensively, the Lady Longhorns scored 24 points in the first half and 26 in the second half.
"It was a pretty consistent game all the way through," Coley said.
In Payson's second game of the tournament, the Longhorns thrashed Ray, another 2A team, 63-13.
He said the lopsided score allowed him to empty his bench.
"I was really excited, because every player who played scored," Coley said.
Top scorers for Payson included Christina Deaton (13 points), Morgan (12 points) and Robertson, who tallied 11.
"Ray had one very good ballplayer. So, we kept rotating on her so she could not hurt us," he said.
Offensively, Payson was consistent, scoring 32 points in the first half and 31 in the second half.
Of the four games Payson played in the tournament, its most impressive showing came against Willow Creek, a 4A school Friday afternoon.
The Lady Longhorns hung on for a 62-55 win.
Coley said Payson played Willow Creek two times this past season and lost by 20 points in both games.
"In my opinion, we were competing as a team," Coley said of the win. "We played real tough defense."
The girls basketball coach said Payson jumped out to an early lead and hung on for the victory.
He said, Willow Creek closed the score to three with a few minutes to go, but added that his team was able to hit its foul shots down the stretch.
Marquel Waterman chipped in 13 points to go along with Rhea Cosay's game-high of 25 points.
On Saturday morning, the Lady Longhorns met Willow Creek again in a game that played much better in the rematch, defeating Payson 49-48 as Cosay's last-second shot bounced off the rim.
"We did not play very well in the first half," Coley said, adding his team came back and led by one point with 11 seconds left before Cosay was charged with an offensive foul.
"It was brutal," Coley said. "It was a war, because they were determined not to lose to this little school twice."
Payson was led by Morgan, 16 points; Cydney Figueroa, 11 points; and Robertson added nine.
Robertson averaged 13.5 points over the four games of the tournament, while pulling down almost 10 rebounds a game, earning her a spot on the all-tournament team.
Coley said with the exception of Cosay, a senior, most of his other top players are sophomores.
"They are very talented, but they have a long way to go," Coley said.
The Lady Longhorns will square off against the Globe Tigers at the Wilson Dome at 7 p.m. tonight.
The freshmen will take the court at 4 p.m. and will be followed by the junior varsity at 5:30 p.m.