The Lady Longhorns might have one of their best teams since the 2007 group that won the East region championship but then was not allowed to play in the state tournament due to an ineligible player.
Dec. 18 in Wilson Dome, the Lady Horns were certainly not at their finest, falling 53-29 to the Fountain Hills Falcons.
With the loss, PHS fell to 6-2 overall.
In the clash, Payson’s normally high-powered offense misfired most of the evening, scoring just seven first-quarter points and six in the second and third stanzas. The only quarter PHS reached double digits was the fourth when the team scored 10.
Individually, only one player — senior Chioya Hill — reached double figures finishing with 10 points.
Prolific freshman sensation Arissa Paulson was held in check, scoring just six points as did Harley Turney, the team’s leading scorer averaging 11.8 ppg.
While the Lady Horns struggled to score, Hill continued her assault on school rebounding records corralling 18, 14 of which came on the defensive end.
After eight games, she is averaging 18.6 rebounds per game — a mark the best of pro and collegiate rebounders would love to have on their resume.
Hill also blocked two shots, had two steals and dished out two assists.
Although Arissa Paulson struggled to score, she played a fine all-around game, finishing with nine rebounds, three steals and a block.
In the defeat, the Lady Horns’ floor game once again haunted them as they committed 36 turnovers.
The players have the opportunity to correct those maladies Dec. 28 and 29 during the Payson-hosted Holiday Hoops tournament to be played in Wilson Dome and old PHS gymnasium.
The fray has drawn 14 teams from around the state including some so-called “Big Schools” such as Glendale Apollo, Mesa Westwood, Queen Creek, Gilbert, Yuma Kofa, Marana, Higley and Tucson Catalina Foothills.
For opening day, the teams have been aligned in four pools — A, B, C and D.
A and B have four teams and C and D have three teams each. Payson is aligned in Pool D with Blue Ridge and Apollo.
On Saturday, the teams will compete in a seeded championship round robin.
Game times on opening day will be announced soon.