Someone once said, “A win is a win, is a win.”
Whoever uttered it, had never been a member of a Payson High team that defeated a squad from Snowflake.
At PHS, beating Snowflake is more than a victory — it’s a cause for a wild and crazy celebration.
The reasons for the heated rivalry vs. the Lobos have roots in the 1980s and 90s, when Snowflake was a juggernaut in almost every sport and Payson High usually found itself on the losing end of the score vs. the Lobos.
An especially tough defeat to absorb was the 7-0 loss in the 1986 state championship football game.
In fact, Payson didn’t whip the Lobos in football until 1999 when quarterback Kyle Conway hooked up with Dusty Brockett on a fourth-down desperation scoring strike, with 3.4 seconds remaining, to lift the Horns to a 26-23 victory.
Those seasons of frustrations vs. the Lobos render any victories against Snowflake doubly meaningful, especially the Lady Longhorns’ pulsating 52-50 win on Jan. 5.
Most exciting was the way the triumph unfolded in the final quarter when it looked like PHS was in for yet another drubbing.
In front of a raucous Snowflake crowd, the Lady Horns trailed by as many as nine points with five minutes remaining in the game, but rallied to overtake the Lobos in the final going.
Down by three points and with the game clock winding down, Payson’s leading scorer, Teanna Lopez, swished a bomb from beyond the three-point arc to tie up the tally.
Only seconds later, Lady Horn defensive specialist Jaymi Carlen’s man-to-man pressure forced a Lobo player to pick up her dribble. Carlen kept up the unrelenting pressure, eventually making a steal before the Lobo player could pass. With the ball in Lady Longhorn possession, Carlen went the distance to score the game-winning layup.
In the final quarter, PHS overwhelmed the Lobos 18-7.
“What a great game the girls played,” said coach Jen White. “We ran our offense, limited our turnovers and played really good defense.”
In fact, the Payson “D” frustrated the Lobos to the point of committing a whopping 18 turnovers.
Offensively, Lopez finished as the game’s leading scorer with 20 points, 12 of which came on three-pointers.
The always-pesky Carlen contributed 10 points, had five rebounds and four steals.
Chioya Hill, a junior team captain, was also a huge difference maker with four points, nine rebounds and four steals.
Molly Davis chipped in with six points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists.
Harley Turney finished with six points and Katelyn Curtis had four.
About the only facet of the game in which the Lady Horns didn’t excel was from the free throw line where the players made good on just four of 16 attempts.
Those misfires didn’t severely dampen the Horn cause in Lobo land, but down the schedule road, poor free throw shooting could come back to haunt the Payson effort.
Payson returns to action today, Jan. 10, in Show Low against a Cougar team that is struggling with a 4-11 record, but is on a modest, two-game win streak.
The Lady Cougars do not boast a single outstanding offensive threat, but rather rely on well-rounded scoring led by Shasta Dazen, Rebekah Young and Jamie Ruiz.
Game time in Show Low is 7:30 p.m.