Mother Nature forced postponement of the Longhorn boys basketball much-anticipated clash against league leading and state No. 2 ranked Alchesay (17-2).
The game, originally planned for Jan. 12 in Wilson Dome, was called off after snow and icy road conditions in the White Mountains rendered travel hazardous.
The game will be rescheduled for late January, Payson High School athletic director Dave Bradley said.
As disappointing as it was for the Longhorns not to have the opportunity to take on the Falcons, the prep hardwood situation turned even bleaker the following evening in Lakeside where Payson fell 79-75 to the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets.
Couple Payson's loss to Blue Ridge with Holbrook's 62-58 upset win over Alchesay and what results is a topsy-turvy East region title chase with no clear-cut favorite.
Alchesay continues to lead the standings with a 3-1 mark and Payson is second at 2-1 (11-6 overall), but rapidly improving Blue Ridge (2-2) and Show Low (2-2) remain in title contention.
In the Horns' loss to Blue Ridge, Payson jumped out early 16-14 and led at halftime 35-31.
But in the third stanza, the wheels spun off the Longhorn wagon as the Jackets rallied for a 58-56 lead.
In the final going, the Jackets outscored Payson 21-19 to nail down the win.
Although the Horns entered the fray a favorite over the Yellow Jackets (6-9), Payson could not overcome a poor effort at the free throw line (16 for 31), 13 turnovers and several defensive lapses that allowed Blue Ridge to post one of its best offensive outings of the season.
For the Longhorns, senior point guard Miles Huff finished with 17 points and three assists.
Huff now leads the East region in assists with 100. His closest competitor, Alchesay's George Cosay, has 72.
Huff is also second in the region in steals with 46. Against Blue Ridge, he had one theft.
Also for Payson against Blue Ridge, 6-foot, 8-inch junior center/forward Oliver Lewinson, the region leader in block shots and rebounds, finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.
Just three days prior to the loss to Blue Ridge, Lewinson lit up state No. 1 ranked Estrella Foothills for 25 points.
He also hauled in 10 rebounds and had two blocks in an 85-77 loss.
Lewinson continues to lead the Longhorns in scoring with a 15.9 points per game average.
In the loss to Blue Ridge, Hunter Hardt contributed 14 points. Levi Neal had 11 and Carlos Lopez pitched in with eight.
Senior guard Bryson Addington played the role of floor general, dishing out seven assists and chalking up three steals.
On the road again
With recent hard fought losses to Seton Catholic, Estrella and Blue Ridge, the Horns will attempt to rebound today, Tuesday, in Eagar against the Round Valley Elks.
The Elks, who are 12-7 overall, could prove to be a formidable foe, partly because the team features the region's top two scorers -- Jon Gillespie and Evan Hamblin.
Gillespie, a 6-foot-1-inch senior forward is average 18.7 points per game and Hamblin, a 6-foot junior forward is scoring at a 14.4 clip.
Neither is a three-point scoring threat, but both are touted as hard-nosed players who will battle in the paint for the tough baskets.
Following the showdown in Eagar, the Horns return to East region action Jan. 19 in Wilson Dome against Show Low.