Wrestling Coach Preps Hoop Team

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Wrestling and basketball are not always a good mix.

Because the two sports are played in the same winter season, the athletes often find themselves vying for attention. Coaches get into the competitive act by trying to sell the advantages of their sport to any prospective athlete who will listen.

On some campuses, wrestlers wear T-shirts inscribed "Wrestling is what men do when boys are playing basketball."

Basketball players counter with their "I'd rather be tall and play ball than roll fat on a mat" T-shirts.

Because the two sports represent opposite ends of the spectrum, it was unusual for onlookers to see longtime Payson High School wrestling coach Doug Eckhardt involved in a recent Longhorn basketball scrimmage.

At a Monday morning scrimmage session in Wilson Dome, Eckhardt took a turn guarding 6-foot 7-inch senior Mike Barr.

As basketball coach Mike Loutzenheiser barked out orders to his charges, Eckhardt battled as if basketball was his first love.

Eckhardt's mission that morning was to add a little manpower to the shorthanded basketball team as it prepared for the coming Bradshaw Mountain Invitational Tournament.

The Longhorns (3-6) open the tournament at 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 29, against the Class 3A conferences No. 1-ranked team, Chandler Seton Catholic. At 4 p.m. the same day, Payson is slated to play 5A Sandra Day O'Connor. Other tournament games will hinge on the results of the two opening games.

Following the Bradshaw tournament, the Horns make their 4A Grand Canyon debut Jan. 3 in Page. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

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