Lady Horns Facing 10-Game Run To State

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With the Lady Longhorns 50-38 victory Jan. 10 at Estrella Foothills in the record books, Payson -- sporting an 11-7 overall record and 1-1 East credentials -- are primed for a run at a top-four region finish and an advantageous berth in the East tournament.

During the next three weeks, Payson plays 10 East games that will determine the team's playoff future.

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Tori Wilbanks, shown shooting a free throw, is the Lady Horns leading scorer and rebounder. Wilbanks and her teammates are about to embark on a string of 10 crucial 3A East games.

The crucial East run opens Jan. 13 in Alchesay and wrap up Feb. 4 in Wilson dome against Show Low.

Although Snowflake and their shooting star Mysti Caldwell appear to be the region championship favorite, the Horns control their own destiny and have the opportunity to avenge an early season defeat to the Lobos Jan. 24 when the two teams meet for a second time.

For the Lady Horns, center Tori Wilbanks is expected to shoulder much of the load during the upcoming East clashes. She enters the frays as the Lady Longhorns leading scorer, averaging 12.4 ppg. She is also the leading rebounder, averaging 10.6 per game.

With 24 assists, three blocks and 25 steals, she has also proven to be an all-around player.

Payson's designated three-point shooter, senior Danielle O'Haver, is the only player, other than Wilbanks, scoring in double digits with a 10.9 ppg average.

From three-point land, she's attempted 132 shots and made good on 38, for a 28.8 percent average.

O'Haver is also shooting 65.6 percent from the free throw line, averaging 3.5 rebounds per game, has 39 assists and 16 steals.

The surprise of the season for coach Rory Huff might be freshman Kayla O'Donnell who is rapidly becoming a varsity stalwart. Appearing in 14 of the Lady Horns' 18 games, O'Donnell averages 7.6 ppg and 7.6 rebounds per game.

Defensively -- where first-year varsity players usually struggle -- she has proven to be an asset, with 19 steals and four blocked shots.

As a team, the Lady Horns are shooting 33 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from the line.

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