The Holiday Hoops tournament has attracted 16 of the state's finest and most diverse basketball teams to the Rim Country.
The Northern Arizona reservation will be represented by both Tuba City and Many Farms. From Flagstaff, Coconino will participate and the Class 4A and 5A "big school" sector will send Gilbert, Mesa, Westwood, Tempe McClintock, Desert Mountain and Higley. Notre Dame will represent the private, parochial prep schools and Horizon Honors is on board from the cerebral set. Action in the tournament tips off at 10 a.m. Dec. 29 in Wilson Dome and the old Payson High School gym. Almost nonstop play continues until the 8:30 p.m. game concludes.
The following day, Dec. 30, the survivors of the first two rounds of the consolation-formatted tournament return to the two courts at 9:30 a.m. and wage hardwood war until the champion is crowned at 8 p.m. in Wilson Dome.
The consolation championship will be played at 5 p.m. in the dome.
In all, more than 30 games will be contested during the two days.
The Lady Longhorns begin tournament play at 10 a.m. Dec. 29 in the dome against Notre Dame. Should Payson emerge victorious, it would return to the court at 5:30 p.m. the same day against the survivor of a Many Farms vs. Estrella Foothills shootout.
If Payson loses the opener, it plays at 4 p.m. in the old gym against the loser of Many Farms vs. Estrella.
Admission is $5 per day for adults and $4 for students. No AIA passes will be accepted.
A concession stand will be open.
All the profits from the tournament benefit the PHS girl's basketball program.
Tournament brackets will be available at the door.
For more information, call (928) 474-2233.
Roster and strategy
First year coach Grant Coley's sophomore-laden team enters the tournament led by its lone senior starter -- point guard Rhea Cosay.
Throughout early season, she has been a workhorse, a floor general and the player called upon to pull the offensive trigger whether on a fast break or pattern offense.
She might have had her best game against Willow Creek, when she scored 25 points in a 62-55 win.
Second year players Jenna Robertson, Cydney Figueroa and Kayla Morgan have shown the ability to both score and defend when called upon.
At the Phoenix Christian Invitational, Dec. 1 and 2, Robertson was named to the all-tournament team. Christina Deaton returned from a volleyball-incurred hand injury in time to play in the Phoenix Christian Invitational and scored a team high of 13 points in a 63-13 win.
The team has also received solid contributions from Marquel Waterman and Brittney McDaniel who could find themselves playing key minutes during the Holiday Hoops.
Jenae Blalock and Lana Cluff were solid contributors in a Dec. 5 win over Globe and could again be called up to aid the Lady Horn cause.
Because teams can play four games in the course of two days, roster depth usually plays a significant role in tournament success.
Coley's strategy during the fray could remain the same as in early regular season games, during which his players have often run and pushed the ball upcourt using Cosay and Figueroa as leaders.
When the running game slows, the coach's philosophy has been to pound the ball inside to Deaton and Robertson who can both use their height to maneuver for close shots or draw fouls.
The tournament will allow Coley to make one final assessment of his players before all-import East region play tips off Jan. 3 in Holbrook.
Following that game, the Lady Horns play 11 East games in the course of one month.
The results of those clashes will be used to seed the region teams in a championship to be played Feb. 9 and 10 in Snowflake.