The curtain has fallen on the 2010-2011 regular season, meaning Longhorn boys basketball coach Bill Goodwin and his charges are now playing the waiting game to learn how the region and state tournaments unfold.
Unfortunately, the team will not know who its East region opening round opponent will be until all results are in later this week.
The Horns wrapped up the East season 3-7 and could finish fourth or fifth in the final region standings.
The first round of the East tournament, which pits the sixth-place finisher against the third-place team and No. 5 vs. No. 4 will be played Feb. 8 at the home site of the highest seed.
The Longhorns wrapped up the regular season in disappointing fashion, falling 62-56 in double overtime on Jan. 28 to Snowflake and losing the following evening 53-42 to St. Johns.
As disappointing as the two defeats were, it was the loss of sophomore point guard Guillermo Lopez to a season-ending injury that rocked players, fans and the coaching staff. Lopez broke his thumb against Snowflake. That’s a blow to Horn playoff hopes because Lopez has been a vital cog in the PHS arsenal all season long.
In his absence, Cameron Romance and Zack Blazer could be asked to fill in. Blazer, however, will have a challenge because he is just returning to the team after being sidelined for two weeks due to an ankle injury.
In the loss to Snowflake, the Horns trailed most of the game, sometimes by as many as 12 points. At the end of the first half, Snowflake led 26-13, but the Horns battled back to within 32-26 early in the fourth quarter.
At the end of regulation, the two teams were tied 43-43, creating the need for the extra periods.
The OTs, however, would not have been needed if the Longhorns had cashed in on their free throws.
A 17 of 33 showing at the line proved to be the difference between a “W” and an “L.”
Despite the lack of accuracy from the charity stripe, Goodwin was satisfied with the effort, saying “they never gave up.”
Tanner Hintze, a 6-foot, 3-inch forward, who some argue is the most talented sophomore in the East, turned in a top notch effort with 13 points, a season- and team-high 20 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
Showings such as that confirm the super-soph is actually one of the finest young players in the region.
In addition to Hintze’s scoring, the Horns received 10 points each from Cale Novak, Justin Moratti and Lopez. Cole Belcher finished with nine points. Moratti and Belcher also had seven rebounds each.
Belcher, who plays the “3” — or small forward position — also dished out five assists, drawing praised from Goodwin, “he had a very good floor game.”
The coach believes the gut wrenching OT loss took its toll on the players the following evening against a St. Johns team that was fresh off an upset of the Round Valley Elks.
On Jan. 25 in St. Johns, the Horns easily disposed of the Redskins 63-51, but on Saturday in Wilson Dome, Payson players could not match the resolve they had shown in the earlier clash. “They were up because of the win (over RV) and we were down probably because of the overtime loss,” said Goodwin.
Once again, Tanner Hintze led the scoring parade with 16 points, Josh Oakley contributed nine, Russ Hintze had five and Moratti and Romance finished with four each. Tanner Hintze also dominated on the boards with eight rebounds. Belcher and Romance had three each.
Russ Hinzte led the defensive effort with two steals.