Tourneys Bring Many Visitors To Payson

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If our town seemed to be overrun with visitors last weekend, there’s a reason for it.

On Friday evening, Payson High School hosted a state first-round basketball game featuring the Lady Longhorns and Tuba City.

The following day, Wilson Dome was transformed from a basketball field house into a wrestling venue for the inaugural Arizona State Team Championship Tournament.

The tournament drew eight of the finest 3A conference wrestling teams from around the state.

At the conclusion of the tournament, Wilson was turned back into a basketball facility to host a state first-round boys basketball game between Sedona Red Rock and Payson.

Those three athletic events attracted a huge number of visitors to the Rim Country, especially the girls basketball team. Tuba City, where basketball reigns supreme, had more than 1,000 fans follow the team to Payson.

Next week, the Lady Longhorns host Monument Valley in a second-round playoff game that will draw even more fans from the Navajo and Hopi reservations.

In a time when we are all concerned with the Rim Country economy and what can be done to boost it, the trio of athletic events were a huge attraction.

Successfully hosting the two games and the wrestling match also represented a monumental challenge to PHS coaches, teachers and administrators who managed to sponsor all without a glitch.

In fact, many visitors were overheard praising our school and town for the willingness to host the state showdowns.

PHS principal Roy Sandoval was beaming a huge smile when he returned to school Monday morning.

“I think it (hosting the athletic events) speaks highly of our school and the commitment of my staff as well as supporters in the community,” he said.

Sandoval and others are also now lobbying the Arizona Interscholastic Association to make Payson the permanent site of the state wrestling tournament.

The principal issued the following statement:

“We were excited to host this first 3A team tournament. Kudos to athletic director Jason Lobik and tournament coordinator Don Heizer for helping us land it.

“Payson is a perfect location, being in the center of Arizona. Also, our dome really lends itself to this type of event. People I talked to from other teams were thrilled. Economically, it’s a great boost for the town when eight teams and their fans come in for an event like this.

“We think Payson is a great permanent home of this tournament and, now that we have been through a trial run, we hope to make it even better for teams, fans and our own community.”

Sandoval also wiggled a “Go-Horns” boost into his statement, “That being said, we’d also like to win the thing.”

Having Heizer host a successful wrestling tournament is nothing new.

He’s been pulling that off in Payson for the past two decades, putting on some of the finest invitationals in Arizona.

At the last Tim Van Horn tournament, I overheard one “big school” coach say the event was being run better than the 5A state tournament.

Ouch, that hurts

There are apparently some ASU basketball fans who are displeased with the way Steve Kerr and Robert Sarver are running, or as they might say, ruining the Phoenix Suns.

A large banner in the student section at the ASU vs. UA basketball game Sunday evening read, “Go back to Tucson and take Kerr and Sarver with you.”

Sarver, the majority owner of the Suns, was born in Tucson and Kerr, the team general manager, played for the University of Arizona.

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