CHINLE – The Longhorns salvaged their season with a strong finish to the regular season and an upset of Snowflake in the opening round of the Division III girls basketball state tournament.
Wednesday’s 45-41 overtime win over the Lobos marked the first time in five years that Payson advanced past the opening round of the tournament.
But the opponents generally get better the deeper you get.
And they don’t get any better than the Longhorns’ second-round foe.
Winslow has dominated Division III/Class 3A over the last quarter century. So the Bulldogs’ 70-30 rout of PHS at Chinle High on Saturday night wasn’t surprising. The defending champs
are the No. 2 seed in the tournament behind Chandler Valley Christian, but it will shock no one if they wind up claiming another championship.
Strong coaching has been key for Winslow, which has reached the championship game 17 times and won eight titles in the last 25 seasons, including five in the last 10 years. The Bulldogs won seven of those crowns under Don Petranovich, the winningest coach in Arizona history. His teams went 778-159 in 33 seasons.
Winslow hasn’t skipped a beat in three seasons under Jerron Jordan, who spent 11 years coaching in the program before taking over after Petranovich stepped down following the 2011 season. The Bulldogs are 74-15 under Jordan, finishing second in his first season at the helm and winning the title last year.
The Longhorns entered the game having won five of their previous seven games. Both losses came against Winslow. Neither game was close.
Neither was round three as the Bulldogs improved to 23-4 with their 16th consecutive victory in advancing to the quarterfinals of the 24-team tournament to face No. 7 Fountain Hills at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. Fountain Hills beat No. 10 Many Farms 57-47 at Payson on Saturday.
Winslow also beat Payson 56-35 at Payson on Jan. 30 and 66-43 in the Section IV Tournament Semifinals at Show Low on Feb. 11.
Payson finished 13-17. The Longhorns were looking to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009, when it was a 16-team bracket. They beat Tuba City in the first round that year before falling to eventual champion Monument Valley.
Winslow led 16-9 after one quarter, 40-18 at halftime and 67-23 after three quarters.
Cori Barnett paced the Longhorns with eight points. Tessa Hintze and Arianna Paulson both scored six points. Sara Novack added five points and four steals. Arissa Paulson had two points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.
Payson shot 39 percent (11 of 28) from the field, was 8-for-22 at the free-throw line, turned the ball over 22 times and had just 17 rebounds.
Winslow 70, Payson 30
Payson 30 – Tessa Hintze 3 0-4 6, Harley Turney 0 1-3 1, Cori Barnett 2 4-5 8, Arianna Paulson 3 0-2 6, 1 0-0 2, Sara Novack 1 3-8 5, Sadie Dunman 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 8-22 30.
Payson 9 9 5 7 – 30
Winslow 16 24 27 3 – 70
3-point goals – P: none.