The Payson High School boys came out ahead of Blue Ridge 53-49 in Thursday night’s game. Leading the team in points were Ever Figueroa with 12 and Cale Novack with 10. Dakota Marshall and Tanner Hintze shared third place honors, scoring 8 points each; Marshall had 10 rebounds and Hintze 6. Chase Walden and Cody Waterman also had six rebounds each. Walden made 6 points and Waterman 5.
Blue Ridge’s Kenny Kellywood scored the bulk of his team’s points with 16, followed by Nick Johnson with 14.
Payson finished the first quarter 12-10; but was down 10-13 in the second; tied 13-13 in third; and went ahead 18-13 in the fourth.
The Longhorns had a huge task ahead of them as they visited the top-ranked team in the league and the 5th-ranked team in the 3A Power Rankings, the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets. Coming into this game, the series for this season was tied, with each team winning once. Payson won in the championship of the Winslow Tournament in December, while the Yellow Jackets beat the Longhorns in Payson on Jan. 12.
The first quarter was a tight one, as the teams basically exchanged baskets, leading to a Payson lead of 12-10 at the first break. Novack led the first-quarter charge for the Longhorns with 6 points.
The second quarter belonged to Blue Ridge, as they out-scored the Horns 13-10, taking a 23-22 halftime lead into the locker room.
The back and forth style of play continued for much of the third quarter, as the largest lead held was a 5 points by the Yellow Jackets in the middle of the third. Payson fought back to even the third quarter scoring at 13, and the Blue Ridge team led by one (36-35) going into the final quarter.
A huge 3-pointer by Waterman, along with shooting 5 for 6 from the foul line as a team in the fourth quarter, helped the Longhorns jump out ahead of the Yellow Jackets with only a couple minutes to play.
Blue Ridge’s full-court press caused some problems, as they cut a Payson 9-point lead down to 5-points with under a minute remaining in the game. A couple huge defensive rebounds by the Longhorns secured the victory, as they out-scored Blue Ridge 18-13 in the fourth quarter and held on to a 53-49 victory.
Payson – 57 percent (8 for 14)
Blue Ridge – 71 percent (5 for 7)
Payson – 35
Blue Ridge – 22
Payson – 12
Blue Ridge - 14
The win Feb. 4 now gives the team a record of 11-15 overall and 3-8 in 3A East.
“I was very pleased with our overall effort, especially the fact that we played hard for 4 entire quarters,” coach Jared Swanson said.
“We have had problems playing a complete game, but our guys never gave up, even when we were down by 5 points at a few stages. Defensively, we have really improved our effort, and that is what helped us get the win. Our guys need to make sure that we don’t settle for one big win, as we need to keep working hard and improving every day.”