Senior forward Carlos Lopez's chest-to-chest defense on Blue Ridge's Keith Wilcox helped pave the way to the Longhorns' 74-48 East region win Jan. 30 in Wilson Dome.
With Lopez hounding Wilcox from baseline to baseline, the Blue Ridge stalwart was held scoreless from the field. He finished with just five free throws.
The last time the two teams met, Jan. 13 in Lakeside, the Yellow Jackets etched out a 79-75 victory, thanks in part to 24 points from Wilcox.
In the second meeting of the two teams, coach Chuck Hardt's strategy was to put Lopez, probably his best defender, on Wilcox.
"Carlos played a big part (in the win)," Hardt said. "He and our team defense created turnovers that allowed us to score in transition."
Wilcox entered the game as the East's sixth leading scorer with a 20.1 points per game average.
Lopez's effort couldn't have come at a better time, because the Horns were playing without senior starting guard Bryson Addington, who quit the team days earlier.
Addington had been a varsity regular since his sophomore season and was the East region's third-ranked player in assists with 84.
In whipping the Yellow Jackets, the Horns jumped out to a 37-9 halftime lead, then coasted to the victory.
As the game wore on, Hardt doled out playing time to his reserves, including some who were brought up from coach Kenny Hayes' junior varsity.
The Horn onslaught was led by 6-foot-8-inch junior center/forward Oliver Lewinson who battled his way inside for 19 points.
"Two of those (baskets) were dunks that got the fans rocking," Hardt said. "The crowd was awesome."
Sophomore Cody York finished with 10 points, as did Lopez.
Senior point guard Miles Huff scored nine points and recorded nine assists to up his season's total to 121.
Hunter Hardt chipped in with eight points and four assists.
The Horns wrap up the home portion of the regular season tonight, Friday, in Wilson Dome against the Round Valley Elks. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
About 15 minutes prior to tip off, a celebration will be held to honor parents of senior team members.
Hardt has issued an invitation to all parents and guardians of seniors to attend both the ceremonies and the game.
The regular season concludes tomorrow, Saturday, in Show Low.
The regional tournament for the fourth through seventh place finishing teams tips off Feb. 6 at the home site of the higher seeded team.
The top two teams, Payson and Alchesay, will receive first round byes into the regional fray that continues Feb. 9 and 10 in Snowflake.