Payson Girls Tourney Tips Off Today

Two-day event features some big schools

Photo by Keith Morris. |

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With a week remaining before they tip off the Division III Section IV schedule, Payson’s girls basketball team will get plenty of opportunities to work on weaknesses in the Payson Holiday Hoops Tournament today and Saturday.

The Longhorns play host to nine other teams in the annual event featuring two five-team pools. Pool play is set for today at Wilson Dome and the Payson High gymnasium. Pool games wrap up Saturday morning, with bracket play dominating Saturday’s schedule.

The top two teams in each pool advance to Saturday’s 11:45 a.m. semifinals, with the winners meeting in the championship game at 2:15 p.m.

PHS (2-2 power points games, 3-5 overall) is in Pool B. The Longhorns take on Div. II Gilbert Campo Verde today at 10 a.m., Div. I Glendale Apollo today at 12:30 p.m. and Div. IV St. Johns today at 3. They play a fourth pool game against Div. III Show Low at 8 a.m. Saturday that won’t count for Payson but will for the Cougars since it’ll be Show Low’s third game. Only three games for each team count for seeding the bracket portion of the tournament. Payson and Miami both play four pool games, but the final game doesn’t count for those teams.

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Harley Turney, shown here taking a shot in Payson’s 53-42 win over Camp Verde on Dec. 10, has been one of the Longhorns’ leaders this season. The senior guard is third on the team in scoring average (8.3), second in assists (2.6) and leads in steals (4.7).

Pool A consists of Div. II Gilbert Higley, Div. III Alchesay, Blue Ridge and Miami; and Div. IV Gilbert Classical.

Games feature two 20-minute halves with a running clock and an eight-minute halftime. If necessary, a five-minute overtime period without a running clock will be played. In pool play, teams earn two points for a win, one point for a tie no points for a loss. Ties for pool places to determine seeding for the bracket tournament will be broken taking the team with the fewest points allowed in all pool games. If teams are still tied, the team scoring the most points in all games wins the tiebreaker.

Payson coach Jennifer White said this tournament is a great opportunity for the teams involved.

“We’ve got some great teams coming,” she said. “We’re excited to see if all our practices paid off. We’re excited to play teams from the Valley we don’t normally see.”

However, the Longhorns will be shorthanded. Senior Savannah Grassel is sidelined by a knee injury and junior Cori Barnett is out of town with her family.

“We’re missing two significant players, which will be a huge loss,” White said. “We’re hoping to have Savannah back next week. She’s been battling this injury most of the season. I think she injured it the first tournament and tried to play through it but she’s just not healing. So she’s resting and rehabbing it.”

Considering that the Longhorns weren’t at full strength for the season-opening Queen Creek Turkey Shootout, where they went 1-3 with two of the losses coming against Division II teams Campo Verde and Phoenix Trevor Browne, and that they showed heart by finishing strong against a good Fountain Hills team on Dec. 13, the coach said they’re better than their record might suggest.

“I think we’re doing great,” White said. “It’s early still. Fountain Hills is an incredibly tough team. At one time we were down by 30 points in that game and cut it down to 19 (49-30). We should have won against Mingus (42-37) but beat ourselves with fouls. I think we’re still sitting pretty good. Our team is pretty strong and I think we’ll be OK.”

In addition to an all-tournament team chosen by coaches, new this year are the Player of the Game awards the referees will decide on for each team in every game.

“We have different companies sponsoring this,” White said. “That’s a little different this year.”

Payson Holiday Hoops Tournament

POOL A

FRIDAY, DEC. 27

AT PHS GYM

Miami vs. Alchesay, 10 a.m.

Miami vs. Blue Ridge, 12:30 p.m.

Gilbert Classical vs. Miami, 3 p.m.

AT WILSON DOME

Gilbert Higley vs. Gilbert Classical, 11:15 a.m.

Alchesay vs. Gilbert Higley, 1:45 p.m.

Alchesay vs. Blue Ridge, 4:15 p.m.

SATURDAY, DEC. 28

AT PHS GYM

Gilbert Higley vs. Miami, 8 a.m.

AT WILSON DOME

Gilbert Classical vs. Blue Ridge, 9:15 a.m.

POOL B

FRIDAY, DEC. 27

AT WILSON DOME

Payson vs. Campo Verde, 10 a.m.

Payson vs. Glendale Apollo, 12:30 p.m.

Payson vs. St. Johns, 3 p.m.

AT PHS GYM

Show Low vs. St. Johns, 11:15 a.m.

Show Low vs. Gilbert Campo Verde, 1:45 p.m.

Gilbert Campo Verde vs. Glendale Apollo, 4:15

SATURDAY, DEC. 28

AT WILSON DOME

Payson vs. Show Low, 8 a.m.

AT PHS GYM

St. Johns vs. Glendale Apollo, 9:15 a.m.

Note: Top two teams in each pool advance to semifinals

BRACKET PLAY

Game 17 - A5 vs. B5, 10:30 a.m. (Dome)

Game 18 - Semifinal: A1 vs. B2, 11:45 a.m. (Dome)

Game 19 Semifinal: A2 vs. B1, 11:45 a.m. (Dome)

Game 20 - A3 vs. B4, 1 p.m. (Dome)

Game 21 - A4 vs. B3, 1 p.m. (Gym)

Game 22 - Championship: Game 18 winner vs. Game 19 winner, 2:15 p.m. (Dome)

Game 23 - Game 20 winner vs. Game 21 winner, 2:15 p.m. (Gym)

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