Jake Hacker is one of the Longhorn varsity players who may be hosting the Division II state first round. A decision on host duties is due Saturday.
Photo by Andy Towle.
It was one and done for the Payson Longhorn basketball team in the Division III, Section III postseason tournament.
In a tournament first-round game Feb. 8 in Surprise against Valley Christian, the Horns got off to a turtle-like start, trailing 17-7 after the first eight minutes and 48-18 at halftime.
Just when the game looked like the clash was going to be a complete blowout, the Horns roared back to outscore VC by 10 points in the third quarter and five in the fourth to push the final count to a much more respectable 75-60.
Payson entered the game as a No. 4 seed and VC represented the fifth seed from the section.
While the Horns came out on the losing end of the score, senior point guard Guillermo Lopez turned in what probably was the finest game of his varsity career, scoring a team-high 19 points that included making 2-of-6 three-pointers and a 7-for-8 effort from the line.
Lopez also dished out two assists, had two steals and blocked a shot.
As good as Lopez was, the season-long bugaboo of turnovers once again hurt the Horn cause. The 30 miscues the team committed proved too much of a handicap to overcome against a good VC team.
In addition to Lopez’s points, Tanner Hintze finished with 16 and Oakley had 12 to give the Longhorns three players in double digits.
Cole Belcher, normally a prolific scorer, finished with six points. He, however, was a force on the boards and defensively with seven rebounds and three steals.
Hintze also corralled seven rebounds.
While the Horns are eliminated from the Section tournament, the team remains in the hunt to host a Division III state first-round game when the tournament tips off Feb. 14 at the home site of the highest seed.
The highest seeds will be awarded on power point rankings and the Longhorns wrapped up the season sitting 18th among the 58 teams in Division III.
The home site games will be awarded tomorrow, Saturday, when all three sectional tournaments wrap up.
If the Horns do receive a home berth, the game would be played at 7 p.m. in Wilson Dome.
For second-round play, action shifts to the Northern Arizona University Walkup Skydome.
Elite eight games are set for Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley and semifinals and finals are to be played at Jobbing.com Arena in Glendale.