The Lady Longhorn basketball team erased any doubts it was not the real deal by dumping the Mingus Marauders 40-35 and improving its early season record to 4-0.
Entering the game, Dec. 4 in Cottonwood, the Lady Horns had won three straight games, but against less than formidable opponents — Globe, Mogollon and Sequoia Charter School.
Mingus, a Division II, so-called “big school,” was expected to test the mettle of the Lady Horns, which the Marauders did in the first two quarters taking a 19-17 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The gutsy Lady Horns, however, erased the Marauders’ slim lead outscoring Mingus 12-10 in the third quarter to send the game into the final stanza dead knotted 39-39.
In the final eight minutes, the Lady Horns closed faster than Willie Shoemaker aboard Silky Sullivan winning the five-point thriller at the finish line.
Following the team’s late evening return to Payson, coach Jennifer White named senior Chioya Hill the player of the game for her 26 rebounds that nearly tied the school record.
Of those rebounds, 23 were defensive which means Hill pretty well eliminated any Mingus put backs on second shot attempts.
Hill also finished with 10 points, which tied her with Harley Turney for a team high.
Arianna Paulson pitched in with nine points and her younger sister, Arissa, only a freshman, tallied seven to give the Lady Horns a well-rounded offensive attack.
Arissa also corralled nine rebounds and Arianna had seven to help PHS control both the offensive and defensive boards.
As sweet as the win was, the victory exposed a Lady Horn weakness that White will probably focus on correcting as the season wears on. The team committed 39 turnovers — a careless mark that could come back and bite the Lady Horns in the rear down the road.
The Lady Horns returned to action yesterday, Dec. 6 at Miami. (Results not available at press time). On Dec. 11, all three Lady Horn teams — freshmen, junior varsity and varsity — travel to Snowflake to take on the archrival Lobos. Game times are 4 p.m. (jayvees), 7:30 p.m. (freshmen) and 6 p.m. (varsity).