When basketball coach Mike Loutzenheiser opted out of the Winslow Bulldog Tournament the Horns had long competed in, he said it was because he’d like to see his team challenged by schools they might not play against during the course of the regular season.
“We were interested in the Mohave High School Matador tournament because we heard it brought in some competition from outside the state,” he said.
After receiving an invitation to participate in the Mohave holiday tussle from tournament director Joe Heath, the coach found some untried opponents to challenge his Longhorns. Schools from Colorado, California and Canada will join other Arizona teams in the Dec. 12 to 14 skirmish in Bullhead City.
Representing Colorado in the tournament will be Rangeview (Aurora), Green Mountain (Lakewood) and Ponderosa (Parker). El Centro Southwest High School is California’s lone entry. Representing Ontario, Canada is Simcoe High School. Havasu, Mohave and Payson are Arizona’s entries in the tournament.
The Matador format has the field divided into two four-team pools. Payson is slotted in the A pool along with Mohave, Rangeview and Simcoe.
The Longhorns open tournament play at 6:15 p.m. Dec. 12 in Mohave High’s old gymnasium against Rangeview. At 11 a.m., Dec. 13, the Horns take on host Mohave in the school’s new gymnasium. Pool play wraps up for Payson at 5:45 p.m. that day in the old gym against Simcoe.
Each tournament team’s pool play record will be used to seed the squads into one of four finales Dec. 14 in the new gym.
The seventh-place game is at 11 a.m. It will be followed by a fifth-place contest at 12:30 p.m. and the showdown for third at 2 p.m. The tournament championship will be decided at 3:30 p.m.
The Matador classic will not be the Horns only tournament of the season. The team travels Dec. 26 to 28 to Thatcher where it is entered in the Eastern Arizona College Invitational.
The Longhorns hope to be clutching a ticket to the state tournament, Feb. 18 and 19 at Northern Arizona University. To get to the tournament, the Horns must finish among the East region’s top-four teams in the regular season and qualify at the regional tournament, Feb. 14 and 15 in Round Valley.