At the Winslow Tournament this past week, the Payson Longhorns basketball team started to prepare for region play with three wins in four games.
The Longhorns, 5-1, first played the Chinle Braves on Thursday, and struggled the first half.
The Longhorns broke open the game in the second half, outscoring Chinle 53-28.
Mile Huff led the Longhorns with 21 points, while Robert Walker, Cody York and Bryson Addington added 15 points each.
"We just kept working real hard, and they wilted against our pressure," said Coach Chuck Hardt. "We extended our defense, they did not shoot the ball well and we were able to get out and run."
Payson shot 62 percent from the field and 73 percent from the free-throw line.
Other players who scored for Payson in the Chile game were Carlos Lopez, Hunter Hardt, Tyler Savage, Levi Neal, Ollie Lewinson and Matt Jones.
On Friday afternoon, Payson was defeated by tournament champion Sinagua, 81-72.
Payson was outplayed in the first two quarters and trailed at the half by 10 points.
Hardt said the Longhorns battled back and took the lead twice in the second half, but was unable to keep Sinagua off the offensive boards.
"We gave them too many second-chance points," he said. "They were big and we did not match up well. They had a lot of energy, and we did not match them."
Lewinson led Payson with 24 points, while Huff scored 14 and Walker chipped in another 10.
Other Longhorns scoring against Sinagua were Lopez, Hardt, Addington, Neal, York and Anthony Pearce.
Payson shot 47 percent from the free-throw line against the tournament champions.
On Saturday afternoon, Payson shook off the loss to Sinagua by throttling Ganado, 80-53, and the game was essentially over at halftime with Payson leading by 20 points.
"It took us about three to four minutes to get going, and then we ran away from them," he said. "The kids looked for our big guy, Ollie, and they could not match up with him."
Lewinson, who did not play in the fourth quarter, finished with 26 points. Walker added 15 points and Hardt chipped in another 11.
Other Longhorn scorers were Neal, York, Huff, Pearce and Savage. The team shot 47 percent from the field.
On Saturday evening, Payson took the court against Sedona for the second time this season and Hunter Hardt, with six three pointers -- one short of the school record -- led the Longhorns to a 78-42 win.
"They were not as quick as we were," the coach said. "Our guards were better, and we were quicker than them."
He added, Payson's man-to-man defense gave Sedona a lot of difficulty. Hardt said his team was up by 15 points in the first quarter, and continued with the same intensity and aggression.
Hardt led the Horns with 22 points, and Walker (16), Neal (13) and Lewinson added 10 respectively.
Other Payson scorers were Lopez, Pearce, Huff and York.
Lewinson was named to the all-tournament team, and Hardt thought Huff should have been on the team as well.
Huff had 35 to 40 assists in the four games and was main reason, Hardt said, that his team averaged 79 points.
He said the team is progressing well, especially on defense and is beginning to believe in each other. The offense is not shooting that well right now, he continued, but he expects that to change with the shooters the team has at its disposal.
Payson will take the court tonight at 7 p.m. in Globe.