A formidable foe, the homestanding Fountain Hills Falcons await the Lady Longhorns this evening, Jan. 31, with an upset win being the catalyst Payson needs to gain one spot in the power point rankings and earn a berth into the Division III, Section III tournament when it is played Feb. 7 to Feb. 11 in Surprise.
To qualify for the post-season tournament, the Lady Horns must be ranked eighth or higher in the power point standings.
Currently Payson (8-8) is sitting ninth, but only about .4 of a power point behind eighth-ranked Sedona Red Rock (9-7).
A win over Fountain Hills could catapult Payson past Sedona, but a loss would drop the Lady Horns even further behind in the chase for post-season honors.
With only one game remaining, Feb. 3 at Show Low, after tonight, the clash vs. the Falcons is most likely for all the marbles.
In games last week, the Lady Horns turned in a break-even record, losing 50-37 to St. Johns on Jan. 26, but winning a day later, 42-6, over Miami.
Against St. Johns, Payson fell behind early, 18-9, but then pulled to within 25-20 at halftime.
At the end of the third quarter, the Lady Horns continued to trail by five, 31-26, but the Redskins went on the warpath in the final stanza, outscoring PHS 19-11.
In losing, the Lady Horns struggled with their floor game, allowing 24 steals.
Brooklyn Trickey, whose older brother plays football at UNLV and could next year be an NFL draft pick, was a thorn in the Horns’ side all evening long with seven steals, 11 points and four rebounds.
Jaymi Carlen paced the Lady Longhorns offensively with a team-high 10 points. Chioya Hill and Adrianna Paulson tallied eight each.
Hill was also her usual menacing self on the boards, corralling a game-high 14 rebounds.
Her efforts all season long have veteran onlookers saying she might be one of the finest rebounders in recent team history. She also had three steals and two assists vs. St. Johns.
Should Payson lose to FH tonight and not secure a ducat into the S-III tournament, the Lady Horns could still sneak into the back door of the Division III state tournament.
“A team not finishing in the top four at sectionals and even one that doesn’t get to play in the sectional can receive an at-large bid, as there are 12 at-large places still available after sectionals,” PHS athletic director Gary Fishel explained. “All of these placements will be based on overall power point standing.”