Longhorns’ State Hoop Bid Comes Up Short In End

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There will be no state tournament appearance for the Longhorn boys basketball team.

Players, coaches and fans learned on Sunday that the team’s 7-12 power point record was not good enough to earn a berth into the 24-team tournament that begins today, Feb. 12, at sites around the state.

Final points standings show Payson was ranked 30th in Division III, which was about six slots out of earning a berth into the state tournament.

Winslow with a 10-9 record earned the 24th and final state seed.

The top 12 seeded teams earned “automatic” state berths by virtue of top-four finishes in their respective sectional tournaments held last week. Those teams also received first round state byes and will not play today. The automatics open Feb. 15 at Northern Arizona University against the 12 first round winners.

Today at the home site of the highest seeds, the 12 teams that earned at-large berths via their power point ranking play one another.

Window Rock garnered the tournament’s top seed and will play the winner of a first round game pitting No. 16 Show Low against No. 17 Benson.

The state championship game will be played Feb. 22 at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.

Not making the state tournament was the second setback the Longhorns suffered in a week. At the end of the regular season, the Horns were denied a berth into the tournament due to their less than stellar power points.

Any hopes the team might have had to advance in the postseason were dashed with a regular season-ending 89-71 loss to Cortez — a team advancing to state as a No. 7 seed.

Prior to the loss to Cortez, the Horns knew that a win over the Glendale school hinged on containing the Colts’ Jorrell Smith, a 5-foot-8-inch guard averaging 25-plus points per game. Smith was not about to be slowed as evidence by his game-high 36 points that included four three-pointers.

With the season at an end, all the players can do now is await the traditional season-ending awards ceremony and the naming of postseason all-section and all-division players.

Also at the conclusion of the state tournament, the Arizona Basketball Coaches Association will select the seniors who will play in the annual North vs. South All-Star game.

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