A 47-40 victory over Chino Valley has boosted the Longhorn boys basketball team into the final four of the 3A state tournament.
Payson will play at 3:45 p.m. Feb. 21 at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale against the winner of a second-round game pitting the Parker Broncos against the Safford Bulldogs.
In the other bracket of the final four, Chinle will play the survivor of a quarterfinal game between Sedona Red Rock and No. 1 seeded Estrella Foothills.
Chinle advanced to the semifinals with a 56-52 win over Monument Valley.
The winners of the two state semifinal games meet at 8 p.m. Feb. 23 in Glendale for the 3A Arizona championship,
If the Horns advance to the finale, it will mark the second consecutive year the team has qualified for the big show.
Last year, the Horns won three consecutive state tournament games before falling 53-41 in the championship to Fountain Hills.
In reaching the final four this season, No. 3 seeded Payson opened with a 64-45 win over Holbrook then edged Chino in a thriller.
While many fans around the state are anticipating an Estrella Foothills vs. Payson clash in the tournament's championship game, that thinking might be a bit premature.
Especially since No. 2 seeded Safford has championship plans of its own. After posting a 26-1 record and winning the South region title with a 15-0 slate, the Bulldogs are definitely a state-title threat. Safford's only loss this season was 87-78 to Ysleta of El Paso, Texas.