Lady Longhorn Chioya Hill, center, struggles to pass the ball to a teammate as a Salt River player aggressively approaches her from behind during the second half of a hard-fought game.
Photo by Andy Towle.
It’s no secret in high school coaching circles that reservation-area schools play a break-neck, fast-paced style of basketball that can be difficult for opponents to adjust to.
That’s been a fact of prep hardwood life since the 1960s when the now-closed Phoenix Indian High School teams, led by Arizona Sports Hall of Fame coach Joe Famulatte, ran and gunned their way up and down the court usually averaging 90-plus points per game.
The Lady Longhorns learned just how frustrating that style of play could be on Jan. 11 in Wilson Dome where the team dropped a 49-36 decision to the Salt River Eagles of Scottsdale.
In losing the 13-point decision, Payson committed 28 turnovers mostly due to the Eagles’ in-your-face style of play.
Payson, which plays a full-court, man-to-man defense, shined defensively with 18 steals, four each by Molly Davis and Arianna Paulson.
The Eagles, who own a sterling 15-4 record, flew out to an early 14-7 lead and led 22-14 at halftime before the Lady Horns adjusted to playing Salt River on much more even terms in the second half.
In the final two quarters, the Lady Horns were outscored just 27-22.
With leading scorer Teanna Lopez missing much of the game due to a shoulder injury, Davis stepped up to lead the team in scoring with 10 points. Junior Chioya Hill, a three-year letter winner contributed nine and Lopez had five before leaving the game.
Paulson paced the team in rebounding with four, three of which came in the first half when the Lady Horns were credited with just four.
Just three days after falling to SR, the Lady Horns rebounded to whip homestanding Mingus, 50-45.
Next up for the team is a visit today, Jan. 17 to Lakeside where PHS will take on a struggling Blue Ridge Lady Yellow Jackets team that is 4-10 overall.
If comparative scores mean anything, which they sometimes don’t, Blue Ridge was hammered, 66-41, by Snowflake while the Lady Horns bested the Lobos 52-50.