Lady Longhorn basketball team members play host tomorrow, Jan. 23, to Heber Mogollon, hoping to shake off any doldrums that might have been incurred Jan. 18 in a 71-42 loss to Salt River.
For Payson, the defeat at the claws of the Eagles was the second this season.
On Jan. 9, Salt River ambushed the Lady Horns 68-43.
Although SR is a Division IV “small school,” the Eagles’ 17-4 record and twin wins over D-III Payson is solid evidence the Scottsdale-area school plays big-time basketball.
In Friday’s loss to SR, the Lady Horns were never in contention, falling behind 12-8 early and 29-15 at halftime.
In the second half, the well-oiled SR hoop machine continued to roll, outscoring PHS 42-27.
While Wednesday’s opponent, Mogollon, won’t nearly be the caliber of the Eagles, the Lady Horns can’t take the Mustangs — or any other foes on the remaining schedule — lightly.
That’s because PHS needs all the victories it can muster to earn the power points ranking needed to nail down a berth in the postseason promised land when it tips off Feb. 5 with the sectional tournament in Surprise.
Against Mogollon, the Lady Horns will take to the court two proven scorers in senior power forward Chioya Hill and freshman center Arissa Paulson.
Hill leads the team in scoring with an average of 11 ppg, while Paulson is second at 10.4 ppg.
But basketball is a team game and for PHS to succeed tonight and down the schedule road, the Lady Horns must have others step up on “O”.
Offensive help could come from Harley Turney (7.1 ppg), Arianna Paulson (7.0 ppg) or Alix Parker (5.1 ppg).
While the team has enjoyed some games in which the scoring was consistent, it does not have a true threat from downtown.
Of the team’s 73 3-point attempts, it has made just 18.
A 24.6 percent shooting mark from beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of opponents.
If there is, however, one facet of the game the Lady Horns have excelled in most of the season it’s the battle on the boards.
Hill, who averages 15.9 rebounds per game, most always controls the action by battling underneath for rebounds at both ends of the court.
A big majority of her retrieves, 140, however, have been corralled on the defensive end.
Arissa Paulson is also a ferocious rebounder, as evidenced by her average of 8.9 per game.
Defensively, Turney — a junior guard — has been a thorn in opponent’s side most of the season with her team-high 50 steals. Hill has also played well on “D,” pilfering 33 enemy possessions.
Following Wednesday’s game in Wilson Dome, the Lady Horns will not have much time to rest.
They travel Jan. 24 to St. Johns and on Jan. 25 host Miami in the dome.