Not much went right for Payson’s girls basketball team for the first three quarters on Tuesday night.
The Longhorns and the Wilson Dome home crowd watched Show Low take control of the 3A East Region opener.
The visiting Cougars built a 21-point lead, 36-15, with 3:24 to play in the third quarter.
But the Longhorns mounted a furious comeback bid against Show Low’s slow-down offense in the final quarter.
However, the large deficit proved too much to overcome as Show Low prevailed 39-31.
Fourth-year Show Low head coach Jacci Tinkel said her team just didn’t handle Payson’s press very well.
Missing a pair of starters, including their point guard, didn’t help. The pair had to sit out because of either missing practice or missing a game, per team rules.
“We jumped out to a good lead and I think that’s the only reason we ended up winning that game because they cut it the last few minutes.
“It got a little crazy when we tried too stall.”
Savanna White scored seven points to lead Payson. Raegen Ashby added six points.
Junior Breanna Cooper poured in 20 points to lead all scorers for Show Low. She drained four three-point field goals. Devin Zitar chipped in eight points for the Cougars.
Cooper transferred to Show Low and Tinkel has been trying to get her more involved in the offense.
“With her the big thing from the get-go is her confidence,” the coach said. “She’s a great shooter, but she didn’t have the confidence probably our first five games. Now she’s starting to settle in.”
The coach says most of the players just need to start believing in themselves because she has a roster filled with varsity veterans.
“We have mainly the same bunch,” she said. “The biggest thing for us is just getting confident. When they’re confident, they can play with these teams; they can win these games.
“They have the talent; it’s just a matter of them realizing they are talented.”
The win was the third straight for the Cougars, who improved to 5-6 overall according to MaxPreps.com.
Payson’s fourth straight loss dropped the Longhorns to 2-9 overall and 1-6 in power points games.
Payson was scheduled to make the long bus ride to play Page in a non-region game on Thursday, Dec. 22.
The Longhorns host the Payson Invitational on Friday, Dec. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 31.