Fountain Hills might be the finest 3A team in the state as evidenced by the Falcons’ sterling 20-4 record that includes a 10-game winning streak and some lopsided triumphs such as 71-19 over Santa Cruz.
The Payson Longhorns (7-12 overall, 3-4 in the East) had an up close and personal glimpse of how good the Falcons can be in a 66-41 loss Jan. 18 at Fountain Hills.
Although the score seems to indicate FH ran away with the game, it was fairly evenly fought with the Horns trailing only 15-12 early in the second quarter and 33-22 at halftime.
The Falcons, however, came out of the halftime locker room on fire, outscoring Payson 25-3 in the third period to salt the game away.
In the win, FH rode the offense of its big two, Jeffrey Bonner and Nick Baker, who joined forces for 34 points.
On Jan. 14, the Horns wrapped up a grueling five-day stretch with a 69-63 loss to Snowflake in Wilson Dome.
Coach Bill Goodwin called the gauntlet, “a good week of basketball — we went 2-2 and are starting to come together as a team.”
The coach is predicting, “if we can put it all together, we may just peak at the right time.”
The loss to the Lobos was the second this year for Payson, a team that lost to Snowflake 55-50 on Dec. 4 in the Cake Chevrolet Shoot Out in Winslow.
In last week’s loss, the Lobos had no answer for sophomore forward Tanner Hintze who led all scorers with 23 points and crashed the board for 17 rebounds. He also recorded two steals.
Cale Novack continued his hard-nosed play as of late with 12 points and two rebounds. Cole Belcher chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals.
Zack Blazer engineered the offense, dishing out three assists to go along with his six points.
Although the losses to Snowflake and Fountain Hills were not what the coaches or players were hoping for, the team remains in good shape in power point rankings sitting 13th with 42.9471 points.
If the Horns do not qualify for the state tournament with at least a third-place finish in the regional tournament, the team could qualify via the power points route.
The Horns have only two East games remaining in the season — today, Jan. 21, against Blue Ridge and Jan. 28 in Snowflake.
The Horns also play non-region games Jan. 25 and 29 vs. St. Johns.
The regional tournament tips off Feb. 8 at the site of the highest seed.