This morning, a field of 14 girls varsity basketball teams began the pursuit of the Holiday Hoops Invitational Tournament championship.
Payson High School was among the first teams to tip off taking on Blue Ridge at 10 a.m. in Wilson Dome.
The Lady Longhorns are in action at 8:30 p.m. today against Glendale Apollo, a Division II school.
All games today will be pool play with the 14 teams divided into two pools of four teams each and two other pools of two schools each.
Pools A and B sport four teams and pools C and D are comprised of three schools.
Payson is aligned in D with BR and Apollo.
Following today’s pool play, the teams return to the PHS and dome courts at 8 a.m. tomorrow for cross-seeded consolation and championship bracket play.
The tournament wraps up at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, with the championship finale.
At 7 p.m., an individual three-point long-range shoot-out will highlight the tournament.
The three-point contest, which was begun years ago by former Lady Horn coach Rory Huff, was once a staple of Holiday Hoops, but for unknown reasons fell by the wayside.
This year, new coach Jennifer White has revived the contest hoping it again becomes a big part of the holiday festivities.
In the Lady Horns’ tournament opening games today, PHS will face a Blue Ridge team that is off to a 5-5 start and an Apollo squad that has struggled out to a 2-10 mark.
The Yellow Jackets got off 0-4 this year before beating El Paso, Texas, 44-23, in the Round Valley Invitational.
After being humbled 67-22 by powerful Winslow on Dec. 11, the Jackets went on a four-game winning streak.
Apollo’s only two wins this season were against Glendale, 49-40, and Moon Valley, 50-49.
While the general consensus is that the race for the tournament title is a wide-open chase, Queen Creek and Catalina Foothills look to be front runners.
Queen Creek enters the fray with a 9-3 record and Catalina is 8-3. Higley, at 6-6 in the big school ranks, could also be a contender.
Alchesay is 8-2 in D-III play and could have the talent to play deep into the tournament.