It took a few extra minutes, but Payson’s girls basketball team got the job done against Snowflake on Friday night.
And, considering the game was in the Wilson Dome, that’s saying something.
The Lobos had won the previous four contests at Payson.
But sophomore Arissa Paulson scored 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to power the Longhorns to a 66-61 overtime victory, Payson’s first home court win over Snowflake in five years. The Longhorns’ last home win against the Lobos was a 40-17 victory on Feb. 7, 2009.
PHS coach Jennifer White said her team, which has struggled to put a strong 32 minutes together this season, turned in 36 competitive minutes against Snowflake.
“They played a great game,” White said. “That was the first time they have played the game all the way through. They had a good first half and a great second half. Usually, we start well and then end bad, or vice versa. We stayed tough the whole time.”
PHS junior Cori Barnett said she’s proud of how the Longhorns competed from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
“It’s pretty big, especially because we played both halves,” she said. “Usually we won’t show up for the first half and then we’ll do good the second half. Or we are up in the first half and then we’re down in the second half. It just shows how much heart we actually have as a team.”
The Horns improved to 6-8 overall and 3-2 in games counting in the power rankings. They stand at No. 4 in Division III Section IV behind Alchesay, Winslow and Holbrook. At 2-2 in power points games, Snowflake is No. 5 in the nine-team section. This game did not count in the section standings, but the Jan. 24 rematch at Snowflake will.
Payson entered the game having gone 2-4 in its previous six meetings with the Lobos. The Horns won 33-32 at Snowflake on Dec. 11 of last season, but the Lobos bounced back to beat PHS 43-34 at Payson on Jan. 3, 2013.
While Payson benefited from playing five games in the Holiday Hoops Tournament it hosted Dec. 27-28, Snowflake (6-5) had to knock the rust off its machine, since they hadn’t played in 14 days.
The Lobos faced the same problem every Payson opponent has confronted this season: Containing Paulson, the 5-10 sophomore who usually dominates under the basket. She continued that trend against Snowflake.
“Twenty three’s really good,” said Snowflake coach Don Godfrey, referring to Paulson’s uniform number. “Twenty three’s the only thing that hurt us. She’s just real good in the post area. She knows how to play it and she can get a good shot off every time, if we don’t double her. And, even if you double her, she gets it off.”
White said Arissa Paulson has impressed all season.
“She’s amazing,” her coach said. “She is a young player, but just such a strong player.”
But the PHS coach said Arissa Paulson didn’t win the game by herself.
“Every single person contributed to that win,” White said. “It wasn’t just her, even though she’s phenomenal. It wasn’t just her. Our point guard (her sister, Arianna Paulson) did a great job of getting the ball to her. We made a lot of really good decisions.
“Tessa (Hintze) kept attacking the basket. Lanie (O’Donnell) came in off the bench and had six or nine points and played tough defense.
“We tend to turn the ball over a lot and that was one of our lower turnover (games). So I can’t say enough good things about them and how they played tonight. I think that was the strongest game they’ve played. And, if they play like that, we’re gonna be something to be reckoned with. That’ll do great things for our morale.”
Harley Turney scored nine points for Payson before fouling out with 3:23 left in overtime.
Annika Decker had a big game for the Lobos with 25 points. She scored 19 of those after intermission, including 15 of her team’s 17 points in the fourth quarter as Snowflake rallied to force the four-minute extra session.
Jessica Neff added 10 points for the Lobos before fouling out with 48.2 seconds left in regulation.
Marisa Godfrey also fouled out for Snowflake 18 seconds into overtime.
The Lobos were 16 for 31 from the free-throw line, including 5 of 12 in overtime.
Payson was 19-for-37 from the line, including 6 of 8 in overtime. Arissa Paulson was a big part of that, hitting 12 of her 16 attempts from the free-throw line, including both in overtime. She scored six points in the extra session.
Payson was up by eight points, 53-45, with 4:24 remaining in regulation. But the Lobos outscored the Horns 11-3 down the stretch to extend the game. It was Decker’s three-point basket with 21 seconds left and her team trailing 56-53, that tied it.
The momentum was with the Lobos as they jumped out to a 60-57 lead with 2:29 to play in overtime on a pair of Melissa Eich free throws with 2:51 left.
But Arianna Paulson scored on an underhanded shot then converted an offensive rebound to put the Horns ahead 61-60 with 1:34 to play and the Longhorns never looked back, draining five three throws in the final minute to put the game away.
PHS tips off a busy week by entertaining Goodyear Estrella Foothills (8-5) at 7:30 tonight. The Longhorns play at Lakeside Blue Ridge at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and play host to Show Low at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Payson 66, Snowflake 61 (OT)
Snowflake 61 — Marisa Godfrey 2 0-0 4, Macie Rawlins 0 0-0 0, Kadi Johnson 3 0-3 6, Tycee Coplan 1 4-8 6, Annika Decker 9 6-11 25, Courtney Baldwin 2 4-4 8, Jessica Neff 5 0-3 10, Melissa Eich 0 2-2 2. Totals 22 16-31 61.
Payson 66 — Tessa Hintze 2 4-10 8, Harley Turney 4 1-5 9, Cori Barnett 4 0-2 8, Arianna Paulson 2 2-4 6, Arissa Paulson 9 12-16 30, Sara Novack 0 0-0 0, Lanie O’Donnell 2 0-0 5, Sadie Dunman 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 19-37 66.
Snowflake 14 16 9 17 5 – 61
Payson 16 17 12 11 10 – 66
3-point goals — SF: Decker. P: O’Donnell.