Horns Have Tough Time Getting Games Started On The Right Foot

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Cade Despain (50) takes a shot during a fast-paced game against Blue Ridge held Tuesday, Jan. 12 at Wilson Dome.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Ever Figueroa (3) takes a shot during a fast-paced game against Blue Ridge held Tuesday, Jan. 12 at Wilson Dome.

The Longhorn boys basketball team took to SR 260 on Jan. 11 to visit Show Low for a make-up game originally scheduled for Dec. 8, but postponed because of inclement weather.

The trip east, however, didn’t produce the desired results, as the Cougars slipped past the Horns 46-39.

Show Low’s Rathen Ricedorf, a point guard who was the Cougars’ record-setting quarterback during football season, paced the cats to the win, scoring 20 points.

“We did not have an answer for his sharp-shooting efforts,” PHS coach Jared Swanson said. “He connected on five three-pointers and was the game’s leading scorer.”

Another reason for the demise of the Longhorns might have been a first half in which the team scored just six points.

“We are having a tough time starting games off on the right foot,” Swanson said. “We have been mixing up our starters a bit, trying to get the right combination to give us a solid quarter.”

The coach, however, can’t align the best mix of starters on the floor until 6-foot, 5-inch senior Dakota Marshall returns from a stress fracture of the foot. He’s been sidelined since a Dec. 18 game at Fountain Hills and is sorely missed in the lineup, as evidenced by the team’s struggles of late.

The boot cast on his foot was removed early in the week, and he is undergoing physical therapy. On Wednesday, he went through a light practice, but currently there is no timetable for his return to the team.

Without his scoring against Show Low, point guard Ever Figueroa stepped up to lead the team with 17 points. Figueroa also dished out six assists and had five steals.

Cale Novack scored eight points and corralled seven rebounds.

Cody Waterman dominated on the boards, hauling in a team-high 12 rebounds. He also finished with five points and six steals.

After watching his team struggle on ‘O,’ the coach is hoping to get more scoring from his reserves.

“Some of our younger guys need to step up and take a more offensive role on the team,” he said. “We have a few guys who have the ability to do that, but they are not taking the opportunity and running with it, as I hoped they would.”

In the loss to the Cougars, Payson did win one battle — on the boards, out-rebounding the green and gold 35-28.

That edge was negated a bit by the Horns’ 23 turnovers. PHS shot 64 percent (14 for 22) from the line. Show Low was 17 for 29 (59 percent).

Defensively, the Horns kept Show Low fairly well in check early on, but allowed 22 points in the fourth quarter.

“I was happy with our overall defense, but there were times in the second half when we just could not get any successive defensive stops,” said Swanson.

The Horns return to action today, Jan. 15, in Snowflake. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

The team then has the remainder of the weekend off before returning to action Jan. 19 against Fountain Hills in Wilson Dome.

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