The Longhorn boys basketball team faced one of its toughest tests of the season yesterday (Monday) in the opening round of the Bradshaw Mountain Invitational Tournament.
The luck of the seeding draw, pitted the Horns (3-6) against Class 3A conference's No. 1 ranked Chandler Seton (results not available at press time).
During a Sunday afternoon team meeting, film review and barbecue at coach Mike Loutzenheiser's house, the players set the strategy for what they hoped would be strong showing against the Sentinels.
The starting lineup during the two-day hardwood skirmish at Bradshaw is expected to center around 6-foot, 7-inch, 230-pound Mike Barr. The senior center should draw plenty of defensive attention from Seton since he is the team's leading scorer and rebounder.
Surrounding Barr in the starting lineup will be power forward Donnie Wilbanks, with Cort Connolly and Andy Sargent at the wing positions.
Sargent, a junior, turned in his finest offensive game of the young season Dec. 10 scoring 16 points in the Horns 69-54 win over Prescott.
Kyle Hubbard, the only returning starter from last year other than Barr, will get the nod at point guard.
Loutzenheiser has attributed some of the credit for the Horns' recent two upset wins over Prescott and Pinnacle (67-55, Dec. 12) to the improved play of Hubbard.
Darren Daniels and Wellington Cassuto will come off the bench, "They'll see plenty of minutes," Loutzenheiser said.
During holiday practice sessions, the coach continued to develop the zone defense he installed after the Horns fell to 1-6 earlier in the season.
A variety of zones, rather than the man-to-man schemes used last year, appear to be the best defensive fit for his young charges.
Also on the Horns' agenda yesterday was a 4 p.m. game against Sandra Day O'Connor. The results of the two opening round games will be used to seed the Payson team into invitational clashes today (Tuesday).
Following the tournament, the Horns will make their Class 4A debut at 7 p.m. Jan. 3 in Page. Loutzenheiser said one of his concerns with traveling to Page is that the grueling five-plus hour trip could take its toll on his players.
For Barr and Wilbanks, the lengthy trip will be nothing unusual. As members of the Longhorn football team, the two traveled to Page last fall for a 4A Grand Canyon Region showdown.