With the 1998-99 prep hoop season at an end, individual players are turning their attention to the announcements of the five division all-star teams in the 3A conference.
After bantering the abilities and talents of players they've had the opportunity to view all season long, Central coaches have tapped their all-division players.
From Payson, senior Stephanie Robertson and junior Sidney Swartwood were chosen to the Central first team. Elizabeth Gille, Rheanna Martinez and Brandi Waugh were second-team selections. Gille is a senior, Martinez a sophomore and Waugh a freshman.
Robertson, the Horns' leading scorer, was a strong candidate for Central's player of the year honors, but was edged in the voting by Fountain Hills' star Ernie Kill.
Payson coach Jerry Daniels said he was impressed with the efforts of Kill all season long, but maintains Robertson was just as valuable to the Lady Horns cause.
Her value was never more evident than in the Central Division tournament, which the underdog Horns eventually captured. In a first-round win over Santa Cruz, Robertson led the Horns with 19 points. In the next round she finished with a game-high 23 points.
Against regular season Central champion Fountain Hills in the championship, Robertson tallied 12 points while playing the role of floor general. Her contributions helped Payson upset Fountain Hills and enter the state tournament as Central's top seed.
As good as she was in the division's shootout, Robertson saved her best for the state tournament's opening round. There, she fueled the Horns to a 59-50 win over Wickenburg, scoring a season-high 30 points.
To the chagrin of Daniels, Robertson's high school basketball career is over, but the coach will soon begin his search for a new team leader. He might turn to Swartwood, who returns to the Horn fold next year as a seasoned senior.
A varsity team member since her freshman year, Swartwood was a do-everything player who could score, rebound, play defense and run the fast break.
Her true value to the team, Daniels said, isn't reflected in statistics, but rather in the intangibles she took to the floor. Her hardwood talents were sufficient to influence Central coaches to tab her a prestigious first-team selection.
Gille, a member of the hoop program for the past four years, worked her way into the varsity starting lineup in mid-season, just when the team began to jell. Daniels asked the point guard to fire up the team's fast-break offense and she responded with enthusiasm.
Martinez was in and out of the Horn lineup due to various reasons, but when she played, she was a prolific rebounder. She could also score, as evidenced by the 21 points she tallied in the tournament championship win over Fountain Hills.
In addition to being selected to the second team, Martinez was an all-tournament team member at the River Valley Invitational in December.
The choice of Waugh for all-division honors wasn't even a passing thought when preseason practices opened in November. As an untested rookie who had played only middle school ball, she was an unlikely candidate for varsity playing time, let alone postseason honors.
But just as the season peaked, she worked herself in the lineup as the two-guard next to Gille. Her outside shooting quickly became an integral part of the Horns offense.
Daniels says all he can do is smile at the thought of having Waugh for three more seasons.