It’s becoming commonplace to expect Longhorn basketball team captains Ever Figueroa, Dakota Marshall and Cody Waterman to shoulder the load at crunch time.
After all, they’ve done it all season long and were never better than during the Longhorns’ 64-51 win over the Show Low Cougars.
On Dec. 15 in Wilson Dome, the terrific trio combined for all but 10 of the team’s points in leading the Longhorns (7-1, 1-0) to their seventh consecutive win and first East region victory.
Waterman led all scorers with 24 points, 12 of which came in the high-scoring first quarter in which Payson built a slim 18-17 lead.
Marshall tallied 17, and saved his best for the fourth stanza in which he scored11 points.
Also in the final quarter, Figueroa contributed seven, hitting five of six free throws.
“Our captains led by example, and all three played great games,” coach Jared Swanson said.
The efforts of the three in the fourth stanza helped the Horns stave off the Cougars, who led 31-27 at halftime.
As proficient as the Horns were offensively in the late going, it was the “D” and the hustle that drew raves from coach Swanson.
“Playing some stellar defense and completely dominating the boards in the fourth quarter, we secured the victory,” he said. “With the game on the line, they all played extremely hard.”
For the game, Payson out-rebounded the Cougars 30-20, prompting the coach to say, “I was happy with how the boys battled on the glass and won the rebounding numbers.”
In all-important turnovers, both teams committed 15 miscues each.
From the line, the Longhorns shot 19 for 27 (70 percent) while Show Low as 12 for 25 (52 percent).
As scouting reports on Show Low indicated before the game, the Cougars were led by Josh Weeks and Rathen Ricedorff. Weeks led Show Low with 16 points and Ricedorff had 13.
Ricedorff lit up the Horns for 10 points in the first half, but was kept in check the second by what Swanson calls “a stingy defense.”
The coach also labels the clash “a great game for fans to watch because both teams led for portions of the game, with only the final quarter helping secure victory.”
The Longhorns return to the hardwood today, Dec. 18, in Fountain Hills. Game times are 5:30 p.m. (jayvees) and 7:30 p.m. (varsity).