If “don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes” was a command at Bunker Hill as American history suggests, PHS basketball coach Kenny Hayes might be telling his troops, “Don’t shoot until we know who the enemy is.”
The coach, also a PHS history teacher, would issue the order because the 3A East regular season champion Longhorns do not yet know who their regional tournament finals opponent is. They’ll find out later today, Feb. 13, when a tournament semifinal game in Whiteriver wraps up.
The odds-on favorite to play the Longhorns in the East finale at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Alchesay High School is regular season second-place finisher Snowflake.
The Lobos are formidable because they dealt the Horns their only East loss during the 2009 campaign winning a 68-66 thriller in Snowflake.
But before the Lobos could do much celebrating, Payson rebounded to whip the Lobos 64-50 in the final game of the regular season.
No matter which team emerges as the finalist tomorrow against PHS, the Horns will be buoyed by some of the East’s most accomplished players including Cody York, Tyler Savage, Shane Keith, Matt Wilson, Ever Figueroa and others.
Offensively, York is the region’s leading scorer with a 15.5 ppg average. Although he is a leaper who can slash to the basket, York also is a decent outside shooter as evidenced by his team-high 41 three-point field goals.
Savage, a senior who Hayes brings off the bench to change the momentum of the game, is averaging 8.7 ppg — second highest on the team.
Wilson is averaging 7.5 ppg, most of which come from the low post where the 6-foot-6-inch, 260-pounder can use his height and bulk to dominate.
Waterman averages 7.8 ppg, some of which come from beyond the 19-foot-9-inch arc, where he has hit 21 of 52 attempts.
While York, Savage, Waterman and Wilson fuel the “O,” Keith and Figueroa have been the floor generals dishing out a combined 229 assists.
The pair, who share point guard duties, have paced the floor game but have also committed 209 turnovers, a mark that is sure to haunt the Horns in the playoffs.
In the all-important battle of the boards, which limits opponents’ second shot opportunities and can set up fast break opportunities, the Horns are led by Savage and Wilson.
Savage has corralled 141 missed shots and Wilson has retrieved 131.
No matter which tournament semi-finalist team the Horns face tomorrow, Payson seems bound for the state tournament as a No. 4 seed, based on power points.
If that scenario unfolds as expected, the Horns will play at 7 p.m., Feb. 21 in Wilson Dome against the No. 13 seed, Maricopa.