Shane Keith's record-setting 13 assists lifted the Longhorn boy's basketball team to an 80-52 victory over the Alchesay Falcons.
The 5-foot, 11-inch junior's mark, which was set Jan. 15 in Whiteriver, ties the school record posted last season by Miles Huff.
Keith's effort also helped the state fourth-ranked Longhorns improve their East credential to 4-0 (14-5 overall) and remain alone atop the East region standings. Round Valley (3-1) is second and Snowflake (2-1) third.
The win also boosts the Horns winning streak to five games and keeps the team among the top four in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point rankings.
In the most recent AIA calculations of the 26 Class 3A schools, the Horns are rated fourth overall with 54.4167 points.
The Horns trail in the rankings only Estrella Foothills (60.7778), Safford (55.4444) and Chinle (55.0882).
Power points are used to seed state qualifiers in the season-ending state tournament that begins Feb. 12 in Flagstaff and culminates Feb. 22 and 23 in Glendale.
The Horns have the opportunity to rack up additional points today, Friday, in Snowflake and Jan. 22 in Show Low.
While the Lobos vs. Horns clash will be the first of the season for the two teams, Payson soundly whipped Show Low Jan. 12 and will be looking to sweep the Cougars.
Entering the two upcoming games, the Horns have excelled offensively under the scoring leadership of Robert Walker (12.3 ppg) and Levi Neal (11.3).
As prolific as the two have been, it is the team defense that coach Kenny Hayes emphasizes most.
This season, the first year mentor has not used many gimmick or zone defenses, opting instead for an in-your-face man to-man scheme.
Rendering the system particularly effective has been the inside presence of 6-foot, 6-inch Matt Wilson who, Hayes says, "plays great help defense."
Among the occasions the coach has been unhappy with the defense was during the third quarter of the win over Alchesay.
"They pulled to within nine (points) by taking advantage of some fast-break opportunities," Hayes said. "Then we started playing some decent defense."
If there is a highlight of the team's upcoming schedule, other than the deluge of East games, it is a Jan. 26 showdown in Wilson Dome against state top-ranked Estrella Foothills (19-1).
The Goodyear school is receiving a great deal of statewide attention, due in part to the presence of brothers Brandon and Corey Hawkins.
Brandon, a senior, is averaging 24.2 ppg. Corey, a sophomore, is not far off the pace at 21.3.
Rendering the two even more state publicity is that they are the sons of former NBA player Hersey Hawkins, a shooting guard who played for four teams in his 13-year pro career.
The elder Hawkins is helping coach the EF team.
Fans from around the state are eagerly awaiting the Estrella vs. Payson match up, wondering if the Longhorns have the firepower and defense to sideline the Foothills' express.