Armed with a 20-6 record, a 10-0 East mark, a state fourth-place ranking and a regular season region championship, the Longhorn boys basketball team will battle Feb. 8 for the regional tournament title.
Tip off is 7 p.m. at Round Valley High School in Eagar-Springerville.
PHS coach Kenny Hayes is unsure of his team's opponent in the gold medal tussle, mostly because of the jumbled nature of the regular season.
"No one knows, it could be Round Valley, Blue Ridge, Alchesay or Snowflake," he said. "The only team that is probably out is Show Low."
Round Valley wrapped up the regular season in second place with a 6-4 mark. Snowflake was 5-5 and Blue Ridge 4-6. Alchesay is 4-5, with a game to play.
All those teams will battle this week in the East tournament for the right to play Payson in the finale.
The Horns were awarded byes into the championship game because of their regular season title.
On earlier East tournament schedules, the championship game is shown as being played Feb. 9.
That, however, has been changed.
"The AIA asked us to move that up a day so the state seedings could be done earlier," PHS athletic director Jason Lobik said.
The state tournament begins Feb. 12 in Flagstaff and culminates Feb. 23 in Glendale.
In the state showdown, the 16 teams that have accumulated the most power points during the regular season will be pitted against one another.
Payson is currently ranked third in the 3A conference with 85.2500 points.
Estrella Foothills is first at 99.111 and with 88.5694 points Monument Valley is second.
The Horns wrapped up regular season play Feb. 2 in Wilson Dome with a 63-50 win over Snowflake.
A day earlier, also in the dome, PHS defeated a rapidly improving Alchesay team 79-50.