There was no New Year’s celebration going on when both PHS basketball teams played their first games of 2011.
That’s because the two teams suffered stinging defeats.
Playing Jan. 4 in Wilson Dome against Round Valley, the Lady Horns dropped a 52-39 decision and the boys lost a gut check 50-49.
Following the Lady Horns’ loss, coach Kelly Krieg lauded the visitors, “Give Round Valley credit as they were ready to play and played well.”
For PHS, Teanna Lopez led the scoring parade with 15 points. Sophomore point guard Jaymi Carlen finished with 8.
Chioya Hill, who leads the team in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals according to MaxPreps, finished with 7 points, as did Molly Davis.
For the Longhorns, the 1-point loss was a huge disappointment partly because the team was determined to end an eight-game losing streak.
“I wanted to get the boys a win,” said coach Bill Goodwin. “We played hard but just didn’t shoot well, especially in the paint.”
Offensive woes have led to the demise of the Horns several times this season, but Goodwin’s man-to-man defense has kept most games close.
That was again the case against RV, but the Horns’ 21 turnovers were too much to overcome.
Any team, no matter how talented, will struggle to win with that number of miscues.
Against RV, the Horns took a 25-24 lead into the halftime locker room, but fell behind 40-35 early in the fourth quarter.
The Horns outscored the Elks 14-10 in the late going, but it was a case of too little too late as RV held on for the victory.
Cale Novack led the Longhorns in scoring with 19 points.
Sophomore Tanner Hintze turned in a steady all around game, finishing with 11 points, 9 rebounds and two steals.
Justin Moratti dominated on the boards, corralling 11 rebounds to go along with his 8 points and 2 steals.
For the crucial East region clash, Round Valley arrived in Payson with two known hot shots in Michael Ciminski and Troyal Turquoise.
The pair didn’t disappoint Elk faithful, combining for 41 of RV’s 50 points.
Next up for both the girls and boys teams is a Jan. 7 showdown in Wilson Dome against the Alchesay Falcons.
Since both Payson teams are 0-2 in East play, the clash represents an opportunity for the teams to steady the listing ships.
While the Alchesay game is key for both PHS squads, it is the following week that will be a test of true grit.
In the course of five days, Jan. 10 to 14, the Payson teams play four East games taking on Show Low, Blue Ridge, Round Valley and Snowflake.
“Only one day (Jan. 12) of practice, it’s crazy,” lamented Goodwin.
The outcome of the four games could determine both PHS teams’ playoff fortunes.
Adding to the anguish of the hoops squads and their coaches, is that old PHS gym cannot be used for games or practices due to a sagging roof that has been declared unsafe.
All students have been banned from entering the gymnasium portion.