Longhorn basketball players shrugged off the disappointment of a gut-wrenching 77-76 overtime loss to Show Low on Jan. 8 to three days later pound visiting Mingus 77-64.
The win over the Marauders also represented a big-time turnaround for Payson, which lost 60-52 to the Marauders on Dec. 4 in Mingus.
While the Marauders were the kingpins in the first game, they were no match the second time around for Payson’s three-pronged offensive attack of Guillermo Lopez, Tanner Hintze and Austin Young who combined for 59 of Payson’s 74 points.
Lopez led all scorers with 21 points, Hintze finished with 20 and Young had 18 to give the Horns the well-balanced scoring attack coach Joe Sanchez has been hoping for most of the season.
Justin Carlen added eight points and Richard Nielson had six.
In the foul-plagued game, the Horns went to the free throw line 40 times making 27 including a sterling 12-of-14 effort from Young.
Hintze was 6-for-8 from the stripe and Carlen finished 4-for-7.
Hintze also had a monster night on the boards corralling a game-high 20 rebounds, 14 of them defensive.
But most importantly in the win, Payson (8-9) turned in a fine all-around floor game committing just six turnovers — their best mark this season.
Teams that play error-free basketball usually emerge victorious and that’s what occurred vs. the Marauders.
In power points rankings updated at 10 a.m. yesterday, Monday, Payson was ranked No. 28 of the 58 teams in Division III.
Since only 24 teams will qualify for the divisional tournament, the Horns will want to move up in the rankings to remain in the hunt for a postseason ducat.
In Section III of which PHS is a member, the Horns are sitting ninth, just one spot out what it will take in power points to earn a berth into the sectional tournament when it begins Feb. 6 in Surprise.
Which means Payson’s postseason hopes hinge on the outcome of the final eight games of the season.
If the Horns can come out on top in at least five of the clashes, the team could be clutching a ticket to the postseason promised land.
Of course more wins would result in a better section seed and improved chances of reaching the D-III tournament when it begins Feb. 12.