Back-to-back wins over Show Low and Blue Ridge have Lady Longhorn basketball coach Kelly Krieg and her players confident they can be a contender for postseason honors.
“We feel when we play as a team, we can be competitive with anyone,” said Krieg.
Against Show Low on Jan. 10 in Wilson Dome, the Lady Horns delivered an old-fashioned 54-31 rump kicking that was a revenge of sorts for a 38-29 loss to the homestanding green and gold on Dec. 14.
The following evening, Jan. 11 also in Wilson Dome, the Lady Horns stung the Yellow Jackets 56-33.
In both wins, Krieg said, “We played together as a team with many players contributing.”
The victories were a much-needed relief for the Lady Horns who were reeling from a 10-game losing streak that included several heartbreakers: 51-50 to Fountain Hills and 48-44 to Alchesay.
In the victory over the Lady Cougars, sophomore Liz Harpe contributed her rapid improvement as of late finishing with nine points, three steals and two assists.
“She had a good floor game as the she handled the ball well and made good decisions passing the ball,” Krieg said.
Harpe also proved to be the perfect back court compliment to Jaymi Carlen who tallied 12 points and had two steals.
“Liz and Jaymi played well together,” Krieg said.
Sophomore Chioya Hill, who was forced into action last year due to injuries to some varsity regulars, was all over the court scoring 12 points, making four steals and corralling four rebounds.
“She continues to have a really good season,” said Krieg.
Teanna Lopez chipped in with seven points including a three-pointer from beyond the 19-foot-9-inch arc.
Kayla Perry scored five points and had five rebounds.
Defensively, Taylor Rizza who also scored three points paced the Horns.
“She continues to play good defense,” said Krieg. “She is improving and starting to show how good she can become.”
Most importantly about the effort against Show Low is that several of their contributors are underclassmen rendering the team’s future bright.
Rizza, Hill, Harpe and Perry are all sophomores and Lopez is a junior.
In fact, Payson has only one senior, Kelsey Waugh, on the roster.
Against Blue Ridge, the Lady Horns continued their all-around stellar play.
“We had a good team effort and made many good passes to open players,” Krieg said.
The coach also lauded the players’ defense and rebounding saying, “They are continuing to get better.”
Hill turned in a performance to write home about, tallying 16 points, ripping down eight rebounds and making two steals.
“She continues to be one of the best players on the floor each night,” said Krieg.
Carlen, playing point guard, demoralized the Jackets with 15 points and five rebounds.
Most importantly she engineered the Lady Horn offense and is showing signs of becoming the team’s floor general at both ends of the court.
Molly Davis, another sophomore who is also a co-captain along with Waugh and Carlen, tallied 11 points and drew the coach’s praise for, “playing well especially handling the ball and making good decisions.”
Lopez tallied 11 points, finished with seven rebounds and two steals.
Emmee Ashby and Perry led in the battle on the boards with eight rebounds each.
Ashby, Krieg said, “continues to improve” and Perry, “is a force on the boards each and every night.”
The Lady Horns return to 3A East action this evening, Jan. 14 against the Snowflake Lobos in Wilson Dome. Game time is 6 p.m.
The Lobos will be a tough nut to crack, mostly because the team sits atop the East standings with a 9-1 record (12-4 overall).
If the Lady Horns are to be victorious they must find a way to contain Snowflake’s two leading scorers — Reagan Godfrey, a 5-foot, 5-inch senior point guard and Natalie Elkins, a 5-foot, 8-inch shooting guard. Godfrey is averaging a team high 15.5 ppg and Elkins is second at 12.5 ppg. Both are touted around the East as good three point shooters and Elkins is adept at drawing fouls having been to the free throw line a whopping 80-plus times this season.
In all-important power points, Snowflake is sitting ninth with 37.4102 points and Payson is 15th at 31.4587.