The Payson High School freshman basketball team might be one of the Longhorns' most talented first-year squads in recent memory.
Evidence of the team's prowess has been its 4-0 start that includes wins over Scottsdale Christian, Sedona, Globe and Chinle.
In the win over Chinle, Dec. 19 in old PHS gymnasium, the fledgling Longhorns committed a whopping 27 turnovers but still managed a 58-49 victory.
Coach Joe LaSalandra attributed the win to "aggressive defense, tenacious rebounding and a disciplined offensive attack in the second half."
In the first half of play, Chinle shot 37 percent from the field and the Horns shot 42 percent.
In the second half, Payson improved to 67 percent and the Horns defense held the Wildcats to a paltry 25 percent.
The Horns also out rebounded the Cats 40-16. Nic Creighton corralled 16 missed shots and Matt Wilson had 10.
Following the win, LaSalandra lauded the young players.
"Despite being distracted by poor fitting uniforms, the turnovers, the loss of a team leader (Ridge Halenar) to injury, each player stepped up to get the job done," he said. "Max Sieverson and Shane Keith's leadership coupled with a disciplined offensive attack enabled us to take control of the game and gain the victory."
The coach also lauded Jeff Day for "an excellent job of coming off the bench with consistent and reliable defense and offense."
Tyler Savage and Wilson drew praise for their heady, all-around performances.
The one setback the Longhorn frosh suffered in the game was the loss of Sieverson to an ankle injury.
The team returns to action at 5:30 p.m. Jan 6 in Payson against the Snowflake Lobos.