Playoffs Opener Could Pit Lady Horns Against Cats


Laine O’Donnell, 33, stretches and releases the ball during a recent contest against the aggressive and persistent Lady Lobos of Snowflake.

Laine O’Donnell, 33, stretches and releases the ball during a recent contest against the aggressive and persistent Lady Lobos of Snowflake. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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All 3A East regular season girls basketball game results are not in, but it appears likely the Lady Longhorns will be pitted against the Show Low Cougars in the first round of the regional playoffs to be held Feb. 8 at the site of the highest seed.

In the opening round, the fifth-place team in the final regular season standings plays No. 4 and No. 6 takes on No. 3. Teams No. 1 and No. 2 receive opening round byes. The semifinals and finals will be played Thursday, Feb. 10 and Friday, Feb. 11.

Now that the format has been set, final standings must be tabulated this week.

The Lady Horns wrapped up the campaign with a 2-9 region record and will finish fourth or fifth in the standings. The Arizona Interscholastic Association Web site shows Show Low has a 2-5 record, which means all game results have not been posted.

Max Preps’ unofficial standings indicate the Cougars are 2-6 — again an incomplete record.

Nonetheless, Show Low and Payson should finish as the No. 4 and No. 5 teams and lock Horns in the first round of the East tournament.

The question now is, which team will earn the highest seed and own the right to host the game?

If the two teams tie for fourth and fifth place, which could occur, the results of head to head meetings could not be used as a tie breaker because the schools split their two games against one another. On Dec. 14 in Show Low, the Cougars ambushed Payson 38-29, but on Jan. 10 in Wilson Dome, the Lady Horns turned the tables by running roughshod over SL to the tune of 54-31.

If the Cougars vs. Payson game unfolds as expected, PHS athletic director Rob Varner is calling it “a very winnable game.”

He’s optimistic because some team members who have been sidelined with a variety of maladies are finally healthy and have returned to the lineup.

Among those once on the M*ASH unit was Kayla Perry who was out several weeks with an ankle injury.

She retuned Jan. 28 in a 57-38 loss to the homestanding Snowflake Lobos.

“It was nice to have her back in action,” said coach Kelly Krieg. “We hope to have her more toward 100 percent when we begin regionals.”

Teanna Lopez, one of the team’s leading scorers all season long, also returned to the lineup vs. the Lobos, tallying a team high 17 points, corralling nine rebounds and pilfering four steals.

Junior point guard Jaymi Carlen turned in a solid game engineering the Payson “O” while scoring seven points, dishing out three assists and hauling in two rebounds.

Chioya Hill drew Snowflake’s best defender, as she has done all season long, but still managed to finish with five points and seven rebounds.

It was Hill’s defense, however that drew the coach’s praise, “Her defense has been solid all season long, but she is now starting to create steals on the defensive end.”

She recorded three steals in the defeat.

Molly Davis also drew the coach’s praise after turning in a seven point, three rebound effort.

“She continues to play with confidence and really is the heart and soul of this basketball team,” said Krieg. “She made many good passes to her teammates for high percentage shots.”

Taylor Rizza, Krieg said, “has really started to use her athletic talent to become a good basketball player.

“She has only scratched the surface of her potential if she continues to work in the off season.”

While upper class players dominate most East teams, the Lady Horns have two freshman post players, Savannah Grassel and Emmee Ashby, who saw considerable action against the Lobos.

Although Grassel had five rebounds and two points and Ashby corralled four rebounds and scored a point, the coach believes the two “have been thrown into the varsity level maybe a little early.”

Redskins sneak by

The Lady Horns wrapped up the regular season Jan. 29 in Wilson Dome by falling 46-40 to the St. Johns Redskins.

Although the game will go into the record books as an “L,” Krieg was pleased with the performance, “We played with good spirit and had a good effort, especially in the second half.”

Davis had one of her finer games of the campaign, scoring 11 points while corralling four rebounds, making two steals and dishing out an assist.

“She played her butt off,” said Krieg.

Lopez also scored 11 points, which included two three-pointers.

Hill had nine points and five rebounds and Carlen scored seven points and recorded three assists.

“She continues to really handle the ball well and set up her teammates with good passes,” Krieg said.

Defensively, Rizza drew St. Johns’ best player, Jenna Udall, as an assignment and did what the coach is calling “a good job” hawking the Redskin ace.

Krieg believes the strong second half showing against the Redskins (20-6) indicates, “that when we have everyone on the same page and playing as a team, we are capable of competing with anyone.”

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