Maybe it was simply too much basketball.
Or the law of averages laid down the hammer.
Or — just maybe — they need to put a handle on the darn ball.
Either way, Payson’s girls varsity team had a rough night on Tuesday during a tough, nail-biter game at home.
After celebrating a gripping overtime victory against visiting Snowflake five days earlier, the Longhorns glumly watched Goodyear Estrella Foothills players do the victory dance after winning in overtime at Wilson Dome.
The Wolves (9-5) took advantage of 39 Payson turnovers to rally from a 23-19 halftime deficit and post a 54-46 victory. The Wolves coughed up the ball just 10 times, a fatal difference for the Longhorns’ hopes.
EF outscored the Longhorns 22-18 in the second half and 13-5 in the four-minute extra session to avoid the same kind of difficult bus ride home the Longhorns inflicted on Snowflake.
The lead slips away
Payson led 31-29 after three quarters and was up by four points, 35-31, on a pair of Arissa Paulson free throws with 5:43 remaining. But the Wolves went on a 7-2 run to take a 38-37 lead with 2:37 left. PHS regained the lead 39-38 on a bucket in the paint from Arissa Paulson.
Shelby Curry’s two free throws put EF ahead 40-39 with 49.2 seconds on the clock. But Arissa Paulson scored again from close range to give PHS a 41-40 lead with 36.5 seconds left. She was fouled on the play but missed the free throw. Curry tied it by hitting one of two free throws with 27.8 seconds on the clock. Both teams blew another chance to score in regulation before the buzzer.
Wilting in overtime
The overtime started well with Arianna Paulson’s basket from four feet in front of the rim, which gave the Longhorns a 43-41 lead 13 seconds into the four-minute overtime. But Tessa Hintze picked up her fifth foul just 21 seconds later. EF missed both free throws and Arissa Paulson hit one of two from the foul line to make it a 44-41 game with 2:50 to play in OT.
Unfortunately, Payson then seemed to run out of steam. Estrella’s Curry scored back-to-back buckets inside to put EF ahead 45-44 with 2:15 left and kick off a 13-2 run to end the game.
For the night, Arissa Paulson led Payson (6-9) with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight blocked shots. Harley Turney scored nine and Arianna Paulson had eight points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Hintze also scored eight points, pulled down five rebounds and blocked three shots before fouling out. Cori Barnett also fouled out. She finished with six points before picking up her fifth foul in the third quarter.
The Longhorns were already shorthanded with Savannah Grassel missing another game while recovering from a knee injury. Once Barnett and Hintze fouled out, Payson couldn’t keep pace.
Sara Novack had seven rebounds for PHS, which shot 39 percent (16 of 41) from the field and was 14-for-24 at the free-throw line.
Payson played at Blue Ridge on Thursday (Jan. 9) and have returned home to entertain Show Low at 6 p.m. Saturday.
EF was 15-for-25 at the free-throw line in regulation, but had trouble making Payson pay for fouling in overtime. The Wolves converted just 1 of 6 free throws in OT. But they sank six field goals. PHS, meanwhile, had just two buckets and was 1-for-2 at the charity stripe in the extra period.
Estrella Foothills 54, Payson 46
Estrella Foothills 54 — Chantel Gregorio 0 0-2 0, Cheyenne Nabity 3 2-3 9, Catherine St. Vincent 0 0-0 0, Lyndze Wahlberg 0 0-0 0, Esence Smith 4 3-8 11, Shelby Curry 5 6-10 16, Samantha Bower 6 5-8 17, Tristyn Dunivant 0 0-0 0, Sierra Reyes 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 16-31 54.
Payson 46 — Tessa Hintze 3 2-2 8, Harley Turney 3 3-5 9, Cori Barnett 2 2-4 6, Arianna Paulson 4 0-0 8, Arissa Paulson 3 7-13 13, Sara Novack 1 0-0 2, Lanie O’Donnell 0 0-0 0, Sadie Dunman 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 14-24 46.
Estr. Foothills 6 13 10 12 13 – 54
Payson 7 16 8 10 5 – 46
3-point goals — EF: Nabity. P: None.