At stake when the Longhorn boys basketball team takes on the Alchesay Falcons in the first round of postseason is the right to continue on in the region tournament and eventually advance to the Class 3A state showdown.
The PHS vs. AHS opening round game tips off at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 9 in Whiteriver.
Payson enters the game clutching a No. 5 seed with a 3-7 East regular season record.
Alchesay is seeded fourth by virtue of its 5-5 East mark.
Split games show even match
Looking back, the rivals split their two regular season meetings with the home team winning on both occasions.
On Jan. 7 in Wilson Dome, the Horns hung a 79-68 loss on the Falcons, but on Jan. 19 in Whiteriver, the Falcons took revenge with a 56-41 win.
Those results seem to indicate the homestanding Falcons, by virtue of a bit of home cookin’, will be the favorites in tomorrow’s clash.
The survivor of the first round showdown will advance to an East Region tournament semifinal game to be played Friday, Feb. 11 at Blue Ridge High School in Lakeside, time not yet determined.
The championship finale will be contested the following day, Saturday, Feb. 12, time not yet set.
Blue Ridge takes to the tournament the favorite’s tag having won the regular season title with an 8-2 record.
With a 6-4 mark, Round Valley was third and Snowflake took fourth at 6-4.
Against Alchesay, the Horns will be out to rebound from disappointing season-ending losses to Snowflake and St. Johns.
On Jan. 28 the Horns lost 61-56 to Snowflake in two overtimes.
That defeat took its toll on the players who struggled mightily the following day falling 53-42 in Wilson Dome to St. Johns — a team the Horns had outmanned just a week earlier, 63-51.
In the postseason, Payson must find a replacement for starting point guard Guillermo Lopez, who broke his thumb in the loss to Snowflake and is likely out for the season.
The players must also find a way to cash in on their free-throw attempts.
Against Snowflake, the Horns were only 17 of 33 from the line — a deficiency that proved to be the difference in the game.
The Horns have struggled for wins most of the campaign, but the postseason represents a new beginning.
Bill Goodwin is a seasoned, veteran coach and he knows well the old coaching adage, “anything can happen in the postseason.”
He’s hoping his players believe that.