SEDONA – It’s a big week for Payson’s boys basketball team.
The Longhorns open the home schedule with three games in four days beginning with Camp Verde at 7:30 tonight. They continue the home stand against Cottonwood Mingus at the same time Thursday and against Fountain Hills at 7:30 on Friday.
Payson enters the week fresh off a 4-2 showing at the season-opening Sedona Red Rock Hoops Classic held Thursday-Saturday.
“Not a lot of teams can say they started 4-2,” said Longhorns head coach Joe Sanchez. “Even though we are a little disappointed we didn’t finish higher in the tournament, coming home 4-2 with three home games this week is nice.”
The Longhorns beat Kingman Lee Williams 73-35 and the host Scorpions 76-59 on Thursday, lost 63-41 to Division II Glendale Copper Canyon and beat Sedona Red Rock 52-45 on Friday and beat Division II Lake Havasu 48-41 and lost to Snowflake 59-38 on Saturday.
“The tournament showed us areas where we have to work a little bit harder,” Sanchez said. “We hit some offensive droughts where we need to be more aggressive. Defensively, we feel like we did a very good job in the tournament. It’s our offense we need to work on a little more. Holding a Division II team in the 40s was nice.”
Blue Ridge went 6-0 in the tournament to improve to 7-0, beating Winslow in the championship game. Winslow beat Snowflake to reach the title game after the Lobos knocked off Payson.
“Our boys were pretty upset losing to Snowflake,” Sanchez said. “But, as a coaching staff, we were excited to be able to see a (section) team at the tournament where it doesn’t matter. We got to see how Snowflake runs and how they play. We know as a staff that Snowflake, Blue Ridge and Winslow (also section foes) will be very tough.”
Kain England averaged 8.8 points per game and made the all-tournament team. He exploded for 18 points and 17 rebounds in the second game with Red Rock after scoring just two points against the Scorpions a day earlier. He did, however, pull down 12 rebounds in that game.
“That was a hostile environment,” Sanchez said. “Sedona was very upset with how we beat them the first time and came out and played very aggressive and played out of their minds. Their coach said that was the best game he’s ever seen them play.
“If it wasn’t for Kain, we could have easily lost that game. But being a senior captain, he really carried us that game when other guys were struggling. He was on a mission. He was not going to let us lose that game. He understood the crowd was maybe getting to the other guys but when we need a rebound or bucket, he got it. He interacted with the crowd and took them on him and basically shut them up with his play.”
•Payson 73, Lee Williams 35: Chaz Davis and Matt Davis both scored 14 points to lead a trio of Longhorns in double figures. Chaz Davis added four steals and three assists and Matt Davis three assists. Austin Young added 11 points, five assists and five steals. Kain England chipped in nine points and six rebounds and Daren Moffett eight points for Payson, which had 10 players score.
•Payson 76, Sedona Red Rock 59: Matt Davis led PHS with 23 points. Young scored 16 points and had seven assists, three rebounds and two steals. Chaz Davis and Spencer Herrera both scored eight points. England grabbed 12 rebounds for the Longhorns, who had 12 steals.
•Copper Canyon 63, Payson 41: Young scored 13 points, grabbed six rebounds and came up with two steals to lead PHS. The loss sent the Longhorns into the losers’ bracket. Matt Davis added eight points and England seven points and four boards. Youngberg snared six rebounds and Jared Varner had four rebounds and two steals.
•Payson 54, Sedona Red Rock 45: England scored 18 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead nine Longhorn scorers. He also had two steals. Young contributed 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Youngberg had six points and 12 boards. PHS won despite going 8-for-18 at the free throw line.
•Payson 48, Lake Havasu 41: England led the Longhorns with 10 points in a defensive battle. Jared Varner had his best game with nine points. Herrera chipped in eight points.
“Our whole plan was to slow them down, them being a Division II school,” Sanchez said. “That game was definitely a team effort. We played real good team defense. It was probably our best all-around game in the tournament and we were just excited to beat a Division II school.”
•Snowflake 58, Payson 46: Young scored 16 points to lead Payson. He was the only Longhorn reaching double figures. “We were exhausted after playing Lake Havasu,” Sanchez said. “As soon as that game ended we had to play Snowflake.”