The Lady Longhorns take to the Wilson Dome court this evening, Tuesday, looking to rebound from the team's first defeat of the season.
That loss, Nov. 30 at Valley Christian, was a particularly tough pill to swallow because the Lady Horns missed several shots at the end that could have spelled victory.
Also, the team played the final few minutes without stalwarts Kayla Morgan and Cydney Figueroa, who were ticketed in the fourth quarter with an excess of fouls.
Following the disheartening loss, coach Grant Coley lamented lost opportunities. "We missed several shots at the end. Valley Christian went ahead with a three-point shot where she was fouled and made the free throw.
"We went from one up to three down in a hurry."
At the conclusion of the first half, the two teams were dead knotted 20-20. Late in the third quarter, Payson squeezed out a 29-27 lead before VC rallied in the late going to nail down the hard-earned win.
For the Lady Horns, Jenna Robertson was a beast on the boards, corralling 15 rebounds to go along with her team-high nine points. Figueroa finished with eight points and Christina Deaton contributed seven.
A thorn in the Lady Horns' side all evening long was the defensive work of VC's Shanel Smith and Alaina Bergsma. The two teamed up for 11 steals.
Tonight's showdown against Florence, a South region member with an 0-2 record, will be the Lady Horns final tuneup before heading to Eagar-Springerville Dec. 6 for the three-day Round Ball Shoot Out Invitational.
On opening day, Payson will play in the RV dome at 4:30 p.m. against Ysleta of El Paso, Texas and at 7:30 p.m. against Valley Lutheran.
Playing times and opponents the following two days will depend on the results of the first two games.
The Lady Horns enter the tournament led by Figueroa, Robertson and Morgan.
Figueroa leads the team in scoring (15 ppg) and steals with 2.5 per game. Robertson averages 16 rebounds a game and 1.5 blocks. Morgan is the team assist leader, with two per game.
Game time this evening against Florence is 7 p.m. Admission is $5.