The Class 3A state boys basketball tournament is continuing on without the Payson Longhorns.
The team was eliminated from the postseason following a 62-46 loss to the Fountain Hills Falcons on Feb. 19 in Fountain Hills.
The Horns entered the state tournament clutching a No. 15 seed and the Falcons opened with a No. 2 seed and one of the favorites to win the state crown.
The Falcons’ tournament victory marked the third time this season FH had beaten Payson.
Now, FH moves on to the quarterfinals to play the No. 7 Round Valley Elks at noon today, Feb. 22, at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
Also in second round games scheduled for today, No. 3 Window Rock takes on No. 11 Monument Valley, No. 5 Blue Ridge plays No. 4 Winslow, and No. 8 Snowflake will probably play No. 1 Holbrook. However, the results of an opening round game between Holbrook and No. 16 Sedona were not available at press time.
Window Rock advanced with a 64-51 win over Estrella Foothills, Monument Valley moves on after beating Florence 74-60, Round Valley nipped East Region rival Alchesay 61-59, Winslow beat Coolidge, 68-50, Blue Ridge slipped past Parker 62-60 and Snowflake beat Safford 79-56.
Tournament semifinals are scheduled for Feb. 25, with the championship decided on Feb. 26. Both will be played at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
In Payson’s season-ending loss to Fountain Hills, the Falcons jumped out to an early 12-7 lead and by halftime had doubled the score, 28-16.
Payson played a much better second half, but could never rally from behind mostly because Falcon star Jeffrey Bonner was heating up the nets for 18 points.
The loss to FH wrapped up a frustrating 8-17 season for the Horns that opened with one of the team’s most promising players, Chase Walden, moving to Snowflake.
Later a myriad of injuries and other maladies plagued the team as coach Bill Goodwin fought to keep spirits high.
The coach has said he was convinced the season could have been much more successful if he could have had all the players together at one time.
On the bright side, the season marked the emergence of sophomore Tanner Hintze who led the Horns in both scoring and rebounding.
As Payson made their rounds through the conference and the region, opposing coaches and officials praised Hintze as one of the most promising young players in the state.
Among his finest efforts was a 25-point, 11-rebound outburst he recorded in Jan. 13 win over Round Valley.