Toros Bull Their Way To Summer Crown

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The powerful Mesa Mountain View Toros, a perennial Class 5A state champion contender, played their way to a 4-0 record and the championship of the Payson Summer Boys Basketball Tournament.

Contested June 13 and 14 in Wilson Dome, the tournament drew 12 summer teams from around the state. The teams comprise junior varsity and varsity hopefuls from various high schools.

The Payson entry into the fray finished fourth overall with a 2-2 record.

In first day's play, Payson defeated both Queen Creek and Tucson Amphitheater to earn a berth in the second round championship bracket.

There, Payson fell to both Shadow Mountain and Page. Shadow Mountain eventually took the tournament's silver medal and Page was third. Both compiled 3-1 tournament records.

Tournament director and Payson High School boys coach Mike Loutzenheiser said the hardwood shoot-out was a complete success that allowed the fledgling players to hone their skill in the off season.

Also, the tournament gave high school coaches the opportunity to assess their players before the season tips-off next November.

The Payson team, which was depleted by graduation losses last spring, turned in an up-and-down effort that had Loutzenheiser scratching his head.

"We played some good games and then played horrible the second day, especially against Page," he said.

The coach cited point guard Wellington Cassuto for his heady play against Shadow Mountain's intimidating full court press. "They pressed the entire game and Wellington did a pretty good job of breaking it," he said.

Cort Connolly and Kyle Hubbard also drew plaudits for their tournament efforts.

"Both played pretty well and were consistent," he said.

The Payson summer team travels June 24 to Laughlin, Nev., where it will compete in a prep tournament.

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