With a goal of bringing home a tournament title, the Longhorn boys' basketball team travels to Camp Verde today to participate in the six-team Yvonne Johnson Memorial Shoot-out.
The Longhorns enter the tournament with a less-than-impressive 1-7 record and just off an unsettling schedule in which the team practiced only once during the pre-Christmas holidays.
At the single session held Thursday evening, only seven players were in attendance and one --Tyler Pettet --was restricted to shooting drills because of a back injury.
The low attendance, coach Randy Wilcox said, was because many of the players were preoccupied with family holiday commitments.
Whatever the reasons, the Horns will be looking to reverse their early season losing fortunes before the East division season begins in earnest Jan. 4 against Snowflake.
In Camp Verde, Wilcox will have the opportunity to assess the offense and defense without having to worry about the outcome of the games affecting the East division standings.
The struggling Horns showed some signs of righting themselves in their last outing -- a 63-61 loss to Holbrook Dec. 14 in Wilson dome.
Wilcox said he was heartened by the effort of the team in that it fell behind early in the game but battled back into contention.
The 18-point scoring binge generated in the final quarter was one of the team's best offensive productions of the young season.
A key to the success of the team in the CV tournament and future East play will be to muster an inside scoring game. That burden could fall on the shoulders of the team's tallest player --6 foot, 5 inch Sterling White.
In the win over Holbrook, White pounded in the low blocks for eight fourth-quarter points.
Help inside could come from David LaForge, Keith Stevens and others.
From the perimeter, senior point guard Joe Sanchez has been the most productive shooter. Against Holbrook, he cashed in a trio of three-balls and finished with 11 points. Pettet is also an adept long-range artist but has been slowed by injury.
If the treys fail to fall and the Horns need to unleash their fastbreak, speedy David Shaw might be just the athlete to run the offense. As a track sprint champion, he's blessed with uncanny speed and can get up and down the court with the quickest of players.
The Horns also boast a trio of others capable of lighting up the scoreboard and filling the lanes on the break. They include Andrew Easton, Brad Bynum and Sam .
The Horns open the Camp Verde tournament at 3 p.m. today (Tuesday) in the middle school gymnasium against Maricopa.
The tournament site switches to Camp Verde High School gymnasium for games Dec. 29. The championship is slated to be contested at 6 p.m. that evening.