Lady Longhorn players take a three-game winning streak and hopes for a bit of payback to the Wilson Dome court tonight, Jan. 29, when they will host a Fountain Hills team (17-3) that whipped PHS 53-29 on Dec. 18.
Also at stake are the all-important power points it will take to finish among the top eight teams in the section and a berth in the postseason tournament.
While the Lady Horns were humbled by the Falcons earlier this season, Payson (13-9) is on a hot streak, having beaten Mogollon, 72-22, on Jan. 23; St. Johns, 56-49, on Jan. 24; and Miami, 55-35, on Jan. 25.
In the win over Mogollon, senior Chioya Hill — who has built a reputation during her four-year varsity career as a rebounding machine — shattered the school rebounding record, corralling 34 missed shots.
The previous record of 27 was set by Julie Popek in 1983 and tied a year later by Shelli Clayton.
In addition to setting the school record in the win, Hill scored a game-high 25 points, had five steals and three assists.
Behind Hill’s spirited play, the outcome of the game was never much in doubt as the outmanned Lady Mustangs fell behind 28-4 early and failed to score in double digits in any of the four quarters.
Individually, Harley Turney and Arissa Paulson added 10 points each and Lanie O’Donnell finished with eight. Turney also tallied eight steals and two assists.
In the seven-point win over the St. Johns Redskins, Hill was once again a one player wrecking crew with 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Arianna Paulson, the pitcher who led the PHS softball team to the state semifinals last season, had a night to write home about, finishing with a team-high 18 points.
Her younger sister, Arissa — a freshman center — contributed nine points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.
While the “W” goes in the Payson column, the Redskins received a Herculean effort from a young player no stranger to PHS athletes, coaches and fans.
For St. Johns, Savannah Brown tallied 21 points and had four steals and two blocked shots.
Since Brown was a freshman, she’s wowed local track and field fans with her blazing speed in both the 100 and 200 meters. She and Lady Longhorn speedster Morgan Chilson have engaged in some epic sprint battles that will be long remembered after the two have graduated.
In whipping Miami by 20 points, the Lady Horns received double-digit scoring from three players. Arianna Paulson tallied 14 and Hill and Arissa Paulson finished with 12 each.
Arissa Paulson and Hill also finished with 15 rebounds each.
As a team, Payson players joined forces for a whopping 16 steals, seven by Hill.
The lopsided score allowed coach Jen White to dole out playing time to some of her younger players including sophomores Marcela Amaya and Cori Barnett, and freshman Sara Novak.
Following tonight’s game vs. Fountain Hills, Payson will have just two clashes remaining in the regular season: Jan. 30 at Blue Ridge and Feb. 2 at Show Low.
At the conclusion of those games and other D-III contests around the state, power points will be finalized and sectional tournament berths awarded to teams who will be advancing to prep hoop’s promised land.