Longhorn basketball coach Mike Loutzenheiser spent most of the past week preparing his players to challenge much taller opponents.
A scouting report yielded information that several Colorado High Schools set to participate in the Mohave High School Matador tournament Dec. 12-14 boasted huge front lines.
Payson’s Jake Swartwood, Nick Cassuto and Chris Donaldson average 6 foot, 2 inches. They may be battling 6-foot, 7-inch players in the holiday fray that began yesterday (Thursday) at Bullhead City and will wrap up tomorrow.
Among the Colorado schools expected to field the tall and talented teams are Rangeview (Aurora), Green Mountain (Lakewood) and Ponderosa (Parker).
Loutzenheiser also anticipates that Southwest High School from El Centro, Calif., will have a formidable team in the tournament.
The Horns opened tournament play at 6:15 p.m. Thursday against Rangeview (Results not available at press time).
The key for Payson’s success in Mohave will hinge on keeping Swartwood out of foul trouble and on the court. He’s been foul prone lately and without his 6-foot, 3-inch frame to battle the Colorado towers, the Horns are in trouble.
Also for Payson to make a run at the crown, Cassuto must continue to heat up the nets as he did last week in a 59-16 win over Camp Verde. After a slow start, Cassuto finished with a game high 20 points.
Other keys to a Payson victory include receiving mistake-free, all-around play from Derek Daniels and Donaldson. Off the bench, Nate Perna must supply much-needed instant offense and a healthy dose of solid defense.