A 57-53 loss to the Snowflake Lobos will keep the Lady Longhorns scrambling the remainder of the season to reach their goal of a berth in the postseason playoffs.
With the defeat, Jan. 18 in Snowflake, the Lady Horns' East records falls to 2-3 (15-6 overall) with five region games remaining in the regular season.
In the standings, the Lady Horns are tied for fourth, with Blue Ridge (2-3), behind Round Valley (4-1), Snowflake (4-1) and Alchesay (3-2).
To remain in the race for an advantageous berth into the regional tournament set for Feb. 5, 8 and 9, the Lady Horns must wrap up the regular season with at least four wins.
The loss to Snowflake marked the head-coaching debut of Stacy Anderson who has taken over the head coaching reins for Grant Coley.
The former coach resigned Jan. 17 and Anderson was appointed his replacement.
The new coach lauded her players for their efforts in the loss to the Lobos saying, "They played super hard."
She attributed the narrow loss, however, to poor free-throw shooting.
From the line, the Lady Horns cashed in on only 11 of 21 attempts.
Payson jumped on the Lobos early, 12-7, but were unable to stop the Snowflake express, as it rolled to a 26-24 halftime lead. Entering the final stanza, the Lobos led 37-32.
For Payson, Jenna Robertson and Christine Deaton finished with 12 points each. Kayla Morgan tallied 11 and junior point guard Cydney Figueroa had seven.
Although the loss was disappointing for Anderson, she remains upbeat about the team's chances for improvement.
"We have a half of the (East region) season to go and we'll be ready," she said.
Payson's quest to move up in the region standings begins today, Tuesday, at Show Low and continues Jan. 25 in Wilson Dome against Round Valley. Game times are 6 p.m.