Payson Duo Named Aca Stars

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The 2003 Arizona Coaches Association 1A-3A North vs. South All-Star basketball game will showcase the talents of Payson High School senior Nicky Cassuto and boys basketball coach Mike Loutzenheiser. The pair were chosen to participate in the annual clash at a meeting of ACA members March 9 at Mesa Dobson High School.

The game will be played June 7 in Casa Grande as part of the ACA convention and all-star festivities in several sports.

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Payson High School basketball coach Mike Loutzenheiser (left) and Nicky Cassuto try their hand at a few basketball tricks. Loutzenheiser was recently named the coach of the North team for the upcoming Arizona Coaches Association All-Star game. Cassuto, a senior, will be a player on the North team.

Loutzenheiser, a former PHS standout athlete, was tapped to coach the North team in only his second year as a varsity head coach.

Last season, he led the Longhorns to the East region championship and into the second round of the state tournament.

A proponent of tough man-to-man defense and a fast-break offense, Loutzenheiser will have four days of practice before the all star-game to teach his style of play.

The PHS coach said he was looking forward to coaching the top-notch players who were selected to the North star team.

Cassuto, a senior, was the Longhorns' leading scorer last season. His best game came in the first round of the state tournament when he scored 26 points and corralled 12 rebounds.

Loutzenheiser characterizes Cassuto as "a player who loves the game and works very hard to get better."

In the selection process for the all-star teams, each conference 1A through 3A is awarded two "locks" or guaranteed all-star positions.

The locks traditionally go to the conference's two best players.

Prior to the voting, Cassuto was awarded one of the 3A conference's locks.

After coaches agree on the guaranteed all-stars, they select the remainder of the 12-man team from a list of about 30 athletes nominated by their coaches.

On the team with Cassuto will be three athletes he played against this season -- Tim Kruge (Valley Christian), Devon Dugi (Tuba City) and Porter Caldwell (Snowflake).

Kruge, who is 6-foot, 9-inches, recently was awarded a full ride collegiate basketball scholarship.

Others chosen to the North team include: Stratton Solomon (Joseph City), Levi Whited (Fredonia), Stephen Soriano (Mayer), LeVaniei Geishe (Greyhills), Kyle Phillips (Monument Valley), Adam Patterson (St. Johns), Seth Robinson (Phoenix Christian) and Josh Sazolanoff (Scottsdale Christian).

Alternates include Reed Hancock (Winslow), Clayton Edd (Monument Valley), Joe Denhalter (Snowflake) and Marcus Eipitia (Holbrook).

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