Mingus 74 — Payson 71
In the course of three days, the Longhorn basketball players relished the thrill of victory with a 69-27 win over Salt River, but later suffered the agony of defeat falling 74-71 to Mingus.
The loss to the Marauders, on Jan. 13 in Mingus, was particularly tough to deal with because the Horns had overwhelmed the Cottonwood-area high school 88-56 on Dec. 6.
While the first go-around against the Marauders was a breeze, the second turned into a nip-and-tuck barnburner in which Payson took an early 21-12 lead only to see Mingus battle back to trail just 41-38 at halftime.
Early in the fourth quarter, Payson continued to cling to its narrow three-point lead, 57-54, but the Marauders went on a 20-14 run to nail down the hard-fought victory.
With the loss, the Horns fall to 11-8 overall and 3-3 in Division III, Section III.
Tanner Hintze, a 6-foot-4-inch junior forward/center, paced the Horn effort against Mingus finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a block.
With the showing, Hintze continues to lead the Horns offensively, averaging 15.5 ppg.
Also against Mingus, C.J. Nottingham tallied 13 points, Josh Oakley had 10 and Cole Belcher and Cameron Romance finished with nine each.
Nine of Nottingham’s points came from beyond the 19-foot-9-inch arc where he was 3-for-5.
As a team, the Horns shot a very respectable 50 percent (6-of-12) from three-point land.
On the boards, Jake Hacker banged inside for six rebounds and Oakley corralled five.
Hacker also blocked two shots. Romance led the team in assists dishing out five.
Payson 69 — Salt River 27
Against Salt River on Jan. 11 in Wilson Dome, PHS jumped out to an early 22-8 lead and coasted to the easy victory, allowing coach Joe Sanchez to empty his bench.
Most impressive about the effort was in the first three quarters the Horn defense held frustrated SR to a miniscule 16 points.
Hintze, playing sparingly, tallied six points and hauled in two rebounds, both season lows. He did however lead in team in blocks, steals and assists with four each.
With Hintze on cruise control, Belcher led the Horns in posting 17 points that included 5-of-5 shooting from the free-throw line.
In fact, the Horns were a rare 11-for-11 from the charity stripe.
Individually, Jamie Wadington was Payson’s only other double-digit scorer, tallying 10 points. Of the 12 players on the PHS roster, 11 broke into the scoring column.
While, the Horns fared well offensively, much of the credit for the win should go to a defense that racked up 24 steals — four each from Oakley, Hintze and Nottingham — and blocked six shots.
The Horns committed just 17 turnovers, which is a low mark for a team that sometimes has been miscue prone.
The Horns return to action today against Blue Ridge in Lakeside. In past seasons, the clash would be a heated rivalry skirmish because for decades the two teams were both members of the 3A East Region.
But with this year’s AIA-mandated realignment, Payson is now in Division III, Section III and Blue Ridge toils in Division III, Section I.
Also in past years, the White Mountain school fielded top-notch hardwood squads that usually contended for postseason berths.
But this season, the Yellow Jackets are struggling with an 8-14 record and have dropped two straight, losing to Alchesay and St. Johns.