The Longhorn boys basketball team travels today, Dec. 4, to Cottonwood hoping to stay unbeaten with a win over Mingus.
PHS coach Joe Sanchez is predicting the homestanding Marauders will be a formidable foe, “Probably the toughest team we have faced this season.”
Mingus players, Sanchez says, will also be fired up to face Payson partly because last season the Horns defeated the Marauders by 30-plus points in front of their home fans.
“We embarrassed them, so they’ll be ready for us,” Sanchez said.
Mingus, which is aligned in Division II, enters the fray with a 3-2 record, most recently falling 60-53 to Blue Ridge in the Sedona Red Rock Hoops Classic.
The Marauders will have in the game a definite height advantage with 6-foot-6-inch Jacob Lord and 6-foot-5-inch Greg Charles pounding inside and working the boards.
The Marauders also have another player 6 feet, 4 inches and four listed at 6 feet, 3-inches.
Payson will counter the Mingus height with 6-foot-5-inch Tanner Hintze, the team’s leading scorer and an all-section pick last season.
Hintze turned in one of his better offensive performances of the season on Nov. 30 in a 79-51 win over Sequoia Charter High School.
Playing in the friendly confines of Wilson Dome, Hintze took game scoring honors finishing with 20 points even though he, and the other starters, did not play in the fourth quarter when the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt.
Hintze was also a demon on defense blocking three Sequoia shot attempts.
Guillermo Lopez, the Longhorns’ starting shooting guard, also turned in a fine performance finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Jared Varner finished with 11 points and Matt Davis, a 5-foot-10-inch sophomore, tallied nine.
Starting point guard Austin Young engineered the Horn offense dishing out five assists against Sequoia’s 2-3-zone defense.
Because the visitors played zone, the Horns did not have many opportunities to fine-tune their newly installed flex offense.
Defensively, Payson stayed in a half-court, man-to-man defense most of the game.
“We played very consistently, it might have been our best defensive game so far,” Sanchez said.
The Horns take to Mingus a 3-0 record with early season wins over Globe, 65-30, Mogollon, 69-45, and Sequoia.
Last season, Hintze provided most of the Longhorns firepower, but in the three early games this year, others have stepped up.
Against Globe, Lopez led all scorers with 19 points when Hintze was double- and triple-teamed.
The Tigers’ defensive pressure allowed Hintze to dish out five assists.
In the win over Mogollon, Ty Davis came off the bench to lead all scorers with 15 points, which drew praise from Sanchez, “His energy kept us in the game.”
Sanchez contends this year’s well rounded scoring attack will bode well for the team once the season heats up and the battle for the postseason begins in earnest.