With the Holiday Hoops tournament in the rearview mirror, the Lady Longhorns are steering down the East region highway bound for a berth in the state tournament.
Pursuit of that destination begins tomorrow, Wednesday, against Holbrook.
Game time is 6 p.m. in Wilson Dome.
With many of the East's finest players having graduated last spring, the chase for the region crown is expected to be a tossup between Round Valley, Alchesay, the Lady Longhorns and possibly Holbrook.
Currently, Round Valley leads the East standings, but that is because the Elks are only one of two teams that has played a region game. Round Valley ran roughshod, 60-29, over Show Low last week to improve to 9-2 in the regular season, 1-0 in the East.
Payson stands 7-1 overall, Alchesay is 6-2 and Holbrook sports a 5-4 mark. With 3-3 credentials, Blue Ridge is fifth in the standings and Snowflake is 4-5. Show Low is the cellar dweller at 5-11.
The first round of East games could turn into a feeling out process, because none of the region teams -- except for host Payson --participated in the Holiday Hoops or any other tournaments against one another.
In hosting Holbrook, the Payson cause will be fueled by senior point guard Rhea Cosay who is among the region leaders in scoring, assists and steals.
Alongside Cosay, Cydney Figueroa has also proven to be a capable floor leader and ball handler. She ranks third in the East in assists and has shown the moxie to engineer the offense, whether it is on the fast break or pattern offense.
Down low, Christina Deaton is among the East's best shot blockers and Jenna Robertson is a rugged rebounder at both ends of the floor.
During the Holiday Hoops tournament, which was played Dec. 29 and 30, first-year coach Grant Coley had the opportunity to access his younger junior varsity players under game conditions.
Coley will use that information to decide which players will fill out a varsity roster that now includes only eight players.
Those who are not selected will return to the junior varsity for more seasoning.
Following the East opener against Holbrook, the Lady Horns return to region play Jan. 5 in Wilson Dome against Snowflake.