The Longhorns have one final tune-up before the team begins 2005 Grand Canyon Region play.
At the Bradshaw Mountain Holiday Invitational, Payson High School coach Mike Loutzenheiser said he wants to take full advantage of the competition to help his players better prepare for GCR action. The results of upcoming region games will determine whether the Longhorns earn a berth into the 4A state tournament when it begins Feb. 14.
Holiday games in the Bradshaw tournament began Dec. 27 and will wrap up Wednesday with the championship finals.
After opening the fray yesterday against Estrella Foothills and Apollo (results not available at press time), Payson is slated to return to the court at 9 a.m. Tuesday against Sandra Day O'Connor.
During the first rounds of the tournament, the 16 teams are competing in four pools of four schools each. Payson is aligned in the red pool with Apollo, Estrella and O'Connor.
The results of pool play will be used to seed the teams into a double elimination tournament that begins late Tuesday afternoon and wraps up the following day.
If Payson can win its pool, it will play the white pool champion at 7 p.m. Tuesday. In the white pool are Burbank, Calif., Chino Valley, Coconino and Willow Canyon.
Boulder City, Bradshaw Mountain, Mayer and Sedona make up the black pool. Ash Fork, Notre Dame, River Valley and Seton Catholic make up the silver pool.
The only team in the tournament that Payson has played this season is Notre Dame. Nov. 22 in Phoenix, the Horns opened the season with a 55-45 loss to the Saints.
Loutzenheiser said he had a good idea of who some of his starters would be. He hoped to further assess the players in the tournament to decided on a bench rotation and on any last-minute starting changes. He also hoped the tournament would serve as a springboard into the GCR season that begins at 7 p.m. Jan. 4 in Wilson Dome against Coconino.