Longhorn boys basketball team members might have been out for a bit of revenge Feb. 7 against the Snowflake Lobos.
That’s understandable, PHS suffered its only East loss of the season on Jan. 23 to the Lobos by a 68-66 margin. The second time around, the Horns were out to prove they were better than the blue and white who rode the home-court advantage to the first win.
Just as the Horn players had hoped, Saturday evening in Wilson Dome, they pounded Snowflake for a 64-50 victory. More important than revenge, the win nailed down Payson’s (17-10, 9-1) second successive East regular season title. It also gives the Horns highly advantageous byes into the finals of the East regional tournament. Although the shoot out in Whiteriver begins today, Feb. 10 with the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds clashing, the Horns will not have to play again until Feb. 14. Tip off is 7 p.m. against the survivor of semifinal games on Feb. 13.
Horns top canines
The win over Snowflake also stamps Payson as clearly the top dog in the East backyard brawl.
The Lobos (6-4), the second-place finishing team in the region, is the only other East team with a winning record.
Also in the basketball-challenged region, Round Valley was 5-5, usually tough Alchesay 4-6 and Blue Ridge and Show Low both 3-7.
Against Snowflake, the Horns built a 33-25 halftime lead, but were outscored 11-5 in the third quarter.
Leading only 38-36 early in the final stanza, the Horns rode improved free-throw shooting to the 14-point victory.
“Snowflake was behind so they had to foul us and we made them,” coach Kenny Hayes said.
For Payson, Cody Waterman hit 8-of-9 free throws and Cody York was good on 8-of-10.
As a team, the Horns cashed in on 17-of-27 charity attempts.
York, who finished with a game-high 22 points, wrapped up the season as the East Region’s leading scorer with a 15.5 ppg average.
Senior point guard Shane Keith doled out five assists to finish the campaign with a 4.3 per game average, best in the region.
In addition to Waterman’s sterling free-throw shooting against the Lobos, he tallied 17 points, corralled six rebounds and had a steal.
Matt Wilson, who recently inked a football scholarship to Northern Arizona University tallied eight points, had five rebounds, three assists and two steals.