Hoop Skills


Rim Country Middle School sixth-grader Levi Neal knows his way around a basketball court.

After growing up shooting hoops on the school ground, he played his first organized basketball as a third-grader in the town-sponsored youth league.

This season, the 12-year-old is a member of the Suns team coached by his father Tad Neal that participates in the town fifth- and sixth-grade league.

The Suns were rolling along undefeated until Saturday, when the team lost a one-point decision to the Tonto Basin Outlaws.

With the win, the Outlaws remained unbeaten.

In the loss, Levi had the best game of his short career, finishing with a game-high 19 points.

Because the fifth- and sixth-grade league is about to end, Levi will hook up with the Bandits' team that plays in the Town's junior high/middle school league.

He says he is looking forward to the challenge of playing against older players.

Levi's grandfather, Troy Neal, was a highly successful coach at Tempe High School in the late 1960s. During those years, he also had a reputation of being a darn good player in Tempe town leagues.

Levi refuses to say whether grandpa's tried and tested hoop tips from those bygone days have helped him excel on the court.

Buy now

According to Mogollon Sporting Association member Jack Koon, the 200 available tickets to the 10th annual banquet and festivities are going quickly.

His best advice for those who want to participate in the event is to purchase now.

Tickets, which may be purchased from any MSA member, are $65 per person if purchased prior to April 1. After that day, tickets are $75.

Those who purchase tickets prior to the April 1 deadline will be entered in an Early Bird drawing for a 12-gauge over/under shotgun.

Festivities began with a no-host cocktail hour at 5 p.m. A prime rib or chicken dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and the auction/raffle begins at 7 p.m. Dave Yoke will serve as auctioneer.

Call Koon at 474-1662 for tickets or more information.

Comedy hoops

The Payson High School math club is sponsoring a benefit comedy basketball game at 7 p.m. March 4 in Wilson Dome.

The game will pit the Harlem Crowns against the Payson All-Stars.

Tickets are $5 if purchased before March 4 or $6 at the door. Admission is free for children six and under. Tickets are available at the chamber of commerce, any Payson public school or from members of the math club.

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