It appears the road to the East Region girls basketball title travels through Alchesay and the highway to state honors winds in and out of Winslow.
At least that’s what win-loss records reveal now that 3A conference teams have settled into regional play.
In the East, Payson (14-5) and Alchesay (14-2) are the only two schools with winning records in a region that appears filled with mediocre teams.
Both Show Low (2-10) and Blue Ridge (2-11) are struggling to stay out of the region cellar.
The North, where Winslow resides, has long been a hotbed of basketball, mostly due to presence of the perennially tough Bulldogs and the Hopi and Navajo reservation schools. Winslow (15-0) is unbeaten and owns a relatively easy 57-33 win over the Lady Horns.
Alchesay and Payson have not yet met, but will do so on Jan. 20 in Wilson Dome and again Feb. 6 in Whiteriver.
The outcome of those two clashes will go a long way in determining which team wins the East championship.
With the Lady Horns and Falcons dominating early season play, speculation has begun on which team has the most talent.
High-flying Alchesay features proven scorers in Nikki Buck (22.4 ppg), Noel Hinton (16.1), Marie Lupe (14.1) and Quintina Aday (12.4). In early season, Hinton has built a reputation as a proven three-point shooter and Lupe has been a thorn in the Horns’ side for the past three seasons.
The Lady Horns can counter Alchesay’s high-scoring offense with a strong inside game led by Christina Deaton, Jenna Robertson and Kayla Morgan. All three are among the region leaders in rebounding, and blocked shots.
As for playmaking, senior point guard Cydney Figueroa is second in the East.
If either of the upcoming showdowns versus Alchesay hinge on long-range shooting, the Lady Horns have their own super sniper in senior Marquel Waterman.
Taking care of business
But before the Lady Longhorns can begin looking down the schedule road to Alchesay, they’ve had to take care of immediate hardwood business.
The team did that Jan. 3 by whipping Estrella Foothills, 67-44. Two days later, PHS hammered hapless San Tan Foothills, 60-14.
That blowout gave coach Stacy Anderson the opportunity to play many of her reserves and younger players.
The team tipped off the East Region season Jan. 9 with a 75-42 win over Show Low. One day later in Wilson Dome, the Lady Horns caged the Globe Tigers, 67-33, thanks in part to a career night from Deaton. She finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
On Jan. 13, the Lady Horns improved to 2-0 in the East with a 52-34 victory over the visiting Round Valley Elks. That win upped the Lady Horns’ winning streak to five games and sets up another East Region clash today, Jan. 16, in Lakeside against Blue Ridge.
Unless the team falls flat on its face, that streak should be six when Payson hosts Alchesay four days later.