Longhorn Boys Drop Two Straight

Fall to Mingus, Fountain Hills

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Austin Young remained in the Payson High dressing room talking to his coaches long after Friday’s game with Fountain Hills had ended.

They were trying to come up with answers to the questions stemming from back-to-back home court losses to Cottonwood Mingus and the Falcons.

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Payson’s Kain England goes up for a layup against Fountain Hills’ Trace Langer on Friday. England led the Longhorns with 15 points but the Falcons won 63-46.

The blame for Thurs­day’s 71-37 loss to the Marauders and Friday’s 63-46 defeat didn’t rest on Young’s shoulders. But, as the point guard, he plays a key role on an offense that was suddenly struggling following a 4-2 record in the Sedona Red Rocks Hoops Classic and a 64-28 domination of visiting Camp Verde in the regular-season opener that kicked off a three-game home stand on Tuesday.

So there Young was, with head coach Joe Sanchez and assistant coach Cameron Davis trying to come up with solutions for the Longhorns’ problems, which included 38 percent shooting from the field and 21 turnovers against Mingus and 39 percent shooting and 21 more turnovers against Fountain Hills.

“We’re playing well together, we just have to get our offense down,” Young said. “Our shots just have to start falling. We have good shooters; we’re just kind of in a little funk right now. The offense will come.”

PHS (1-2 power rankings games, 5-4 overall) also struggled at the free-throw line against Mingus, going 12-for-25. The Horns were 7 of 11 from the foul line against the Falcons.

Center Kain England scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds against Fountain Hills and power forward Jared Varner added 12 points and seven boards. But nobody else managed more than five points and the Longhorns had just 27 rebounds.

Shooting guard Chaz Davis led the way against Mingus, scoring 12 points. England chipped in eight points and nobody else scored more than five. William Youngberg grabbed 10 of the Longhorns’ 30 boards.

“We’re in a shooting slump, I don’t know how else to say it,” Sanchez said. “Offensively, we have our struggles right now.”

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Payson’s Matt Davis tries to dribble around a pair of Fountain Hills defenders Friday night.

The coach said the Longhorns need to get offensive contributions from the backcourt, as well as the players down low, if they’re going to turn things around.

“We’re relying on a lot of scoring from our three starting guards and they had I think seven points between the three of them (against Fountain Hills),” Sanchez said.

“And they will be the first ones to tell anybody that they’re struggling right now and it’s bothering them.

“It’s definitely not something that they’re OK with. They expect better and they want to be in the gym tomorrow just to have a shoot around. Those are the type of kids we have.

“If we would allow it, they’d be in the gym every night because they want to be there. But we don’t want them to be away from their families that long.”

But it’s not only the offense that has struggled. The Longhorns had surrendered 60 or more points just once in their first seven games, but have now allowed that many twice in two days.

“We’re having too many breakdowns in our defense,” Sanchez said. “So after Monday’s game (at Mogollon) and before our Bradshaw Mountain Tournament (Dec. 26-28) is going to be dedicated to defense, having our boys get back, because we truly believe as a coaching staff we’re not going to win any games if we don’t play our defense.”

Although the team has experienced some problems the past two games, both losses came against strong programs. Mingus is 6-2 and Fountain Hills (6-4) reached the Division III state quarterfinals last year two seasons after advancing to the Class 3A title game. And it’s early enough in the season for the Longhorns to right the ship.

“I’ll be honest, I didn’t think we’d be where we are right now at 1-2,” Sanchez said. “We were hoping to be 2-1. We knew it was going to be back-to-back games with Mingus and Fountain Hills and we were hoping to win one of them. So we’re disappointed as a coaching staff, but we believe in this team and we’ve just got more work to do than we thought.”

Fountain Hills shot 47 percent from the field. Austin Keating led a trio of Falcons scoring in double figures with 16 points and 10 of his team’s 35 rebounds.

Friday, Dec. 13

Fountain Hills 63, Payson 46

Fountain Hills 63 — Paul Byniarski 2 0-0 4, Christian Wachs 2 0-0 4, Jordan Atienza 3 3-4 9, Kent Smith 1 0-0 3, Austin Keating 8 0-1 16, Reilly Milligan 2 5-7 10, Trace Langer 0 0-0 0, Austin Millay 0 0-0 0, Cole Miles 0 0-0 0, Trent Bode 1 1-2 3, Brandon Barth 0 0-0 0, Hayden Brecto 1 1-1 3, Luke McDermott 4 0-0 11. Totals 24 10-15 63.

Payson 46 — Austin Young 0 2-2 2, Chaz Davis 1 0-0 2, Matt Davis 1 1-2 3, Kain England 7 1-4 15, Jared Varner 5 2-2 12, Ruben Estrada 0 0-0 0, Spencer Herrera 1 1-3 3, Darren Moffett 2 0-0 5, William Youngberg 2 0-0 4. Totals 19 7-13 46.

Fountain Hills 15 15 9 24 — 63

Payson 9 10 9 18 — 46

3-point goals — FH: Milligan, Smith, McMermott 3. P: Moffett.

Thursday, Dec. 12

Cottonwood Mingus 71, Payson 49

Payson 49 – Young 1 1-3 3, C. Davis 4 3-7 12, Herrera 1 0-0 3, M. Davis 1 2-4 4, Moffett 1 0-0 3, England 3 2-4 8, Estrada 1 3-4 5, Hancock 1 0-0 2, Wacker 0 0-0 0, Dixon 1 0-0 2, Varner 2 0-0 4, Youngberg 1 1-3 3. Totals 17 12-25 49.

Mingus 21 16 14 20 — 71

Payson 3 15 17 14 — 49

3-point goals — P: C. Davis, Herrera, Moffett.

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