Longhorn boys basketball coach Mike Loutzenheiser is taking a philosophical approach toward his team's four-game skid in the Marana Invitational Tournament.
"At least we are working hard," he said. "There is no quit in them and there never better be."
At Marana Dec. 5 and 6, the Longhorns opened the tournament losing 62-33 to Phoenix Thunderbird. In the second round, Payson was sidelined 62-31 by host Marana. Following a third round 79-43 loss to Apache Junction, the Horns capped their stay near Tucson with a 69-61 loss to Las Vegas El Rancho.
Although the team was winless in the tournament, the Horns effort against El Rancho drew praise from the coach.
"We played well against a team that represented a school of over 4,000 students," Loutzenheiser said.
Senior Mike Barr, the team's leading scorer, said the only difference between the two teams was backcourt speed.
"Their guards were fast," he said. "They really got up and down the court."
The Las Vegas backcourt combined to score 32 of the teams 69 points
Barr paced the Payson offense scoring a team-high 15 points. Darren Daniels, who filled in at point guard for Wellington Cassuto, tallied nine points. Donnie Wilbanks, Kyle Hubbard and Andy Sargent also contributed nine each.
In the loss to Apache Junction, the Horns were facing a team they had met Nov. 25 in a regular season clash. In that game, played in Apache Junction, the Horns dropped a 69-59 squeaker mostly because the Prospectors mounted a 31-point fourth-quarter rally.
At Marana, the Horns couldn't muster the firepower they had relied on in the earlier game against Apache Junction.
Only Barr (16 points) and Daniels (12) finished in double figures. The rest of the lineup was strangely silent.
"We are so inconsistent right now," Loutzenheiser lamented.
The cure to Longhorn maladies, he reasoned, will be for the entire team to step up their level of play both offensively and defensively.
In the 31-point loss to Marana, the Horn offense was again almost nonexistent. In the first quarter, Payson scored two points. In the third, the "O" wasn't much better posting only four points.
Barr finished with 12 and Daniels had nine.
The loss to Thunderbird was equally frustrating for the coach in that only Sargent (12) and Barr (11) were scoring threats.
With the defeats in the Marana showdown, the team falls to 1-6 on the year.
"It's rough right now, but I think we'll get better as the season goes on," Loutzenheiser said.
The team will have the opportunity to put an end to the losing streak today when it plays host to Pinnacle.
Game times are 4 p.m. (freshmen), 5:30 p.m. (jayvee) and 7 p.m. (varsity).