Hoop Play Highlights Summer Scene

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Members of the Payson High School summer basketball team Bryson Addington, Brandon Buckner, Tommy Ashby, Miles Huff, Zach Belcher, Wellington Cassuto and coach Mike Loutzenheiser.

Longhorn boys basketball coach Mike Loutzenheiser has put together an ambitious summer hoop program for aspiring players of all ages.

The hardwood agenda includes a camp for elementary /junior high youngsters, participation in a White Mountain high school league, the annual Longhorn summer tournament and participation in a San Diego prep shoot out.

The boys tournament, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 7 to 10, is open to aspiring players entering third to eighth grades.

Last year, more than 50 youngsters flocked to Wilson Dome to take part in the camp.

Several high school basketball players, including Bryan Schwind, Nate Blazer, Brandon Riley and Nick Blazer, will be on hand to assist Loutzenheiser.

The curriculum will include the proper techniques of shooting, dribbling, defense, passing and rebounding.

The older campers also will receive instruction in the Longhorns' way.

"We'll put in our offense with those kids," Loutzenheiser said. ‘We'll teach them proper movement without the ball, weak side defense and other things."

The older boys also will be offered the opportunity to learn the position they might play in high school.

Loutzenheiser's system has the "1" player holding down the point guard position and the "2" is the off guard. The "3" position is the small forward, "4" the power forward and "5" is the center.

The camp fee is $35 and registration can be completed at the parks and recreation office at Green Valley Park.

Loutzenheiser said he is grateful to the local Pepsi distributor for co-sponsoring the event and providing sport drinks for the youngsters.

For the high school players, the coach has entered the team in a summer league that plays games at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. each Tuesday at either Blue Ridge or Show Low High School. Teams from Cibecue, Miami, Alchesay, Holbrook, Blue Ridge and Show Low also in the league.

League teams play two games each Tuesday through the month of June.

This Friday (June 4), the PHS summer squad travels to Blue Ridge to participate in the Yellow Jacket Invitational. Payson plays at 12:30 today against Holbrook and at 1:30 vs. Wilcox.

Tomorrow, Payson takes on Class 3A state runner-up Chandler Seton, Desert Ridge and Ft. Thomas. Game times have not yet been set.

The Payson Summer Invitational is on agenda for June 11-12 in Wilson Dome.

Set to participate are Tucson Amphitheater, Mesa Mountain View, Red Mountain, Skyline, Caesar Chavez, Phoenix North, Page, Shadow Mountain, Fountain Hills, Show Low, Queen Creek and Payson.

"It's turned into a really good tournament," Loutzenheiser said. "We have a mix of 3A, 4A and 5A teams."

Game times have not yet been set, but the tournament will open Friday with pool play. The four pools will be made up of three teams each. The results of Friday's games will be used to seed the teams into Saturday's tournament.

Following the tournament, the Payson players take a weekend break for the Jack Morris Memorial Tournament June 19 at Payson Golf Course. Morris, a Payson High School assistant football coach who died months ago, was a close friend and former PHS teammate of Loutzenheiser's.

"I'm not a golfer, but I'm playing in it," Loutzenheiser said.

Also throughout June, open gym sessions will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday.

The sessions are open to players who will be students at Payson High next school year.

The summer program wraps up June 24 to 27 when the Longhorns travel to San Diego State University where they are entered in a prep tournament. The fray has drawn teams from California, Nevada, Oregon, New Mexico and Arizona.

Loutzenheiser anticipates Payson will play about six games during the San Diego stay.

For more information about the youth camp, call (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.

For information about the summer program, call Loutzenheiser at (928) 474-2233.

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