A quarter of a century after winning the Class B state basketball championship, the Longhorn players of 1979 walked on to the America West Arena hardwood.
Some were a few pounds heavier and sporting a little less hair than they did when Payson High captured the state crown 25 years ago.
As the players were introduced to the cheering crowd, all carried themselves like the champions they once were.
The scene Saturday afternoon in the home of the Phoenix Suns was an Arizona Interscholastic Association-sponsored ceremony in which the former Payson High players and coaches were honored for their achievements during that banner season.
The championship is the only state basketball title the school has produced.
Payson High School athletic director Dave Bradley and physical education teacher Chuck Hardt coached the ‘79 team to a 21-4 record and the state crown. In the championship game played at Arizona State University, the Horns survived a thrilling 49-48 win over the Williams Viking squad. Jeff Pettet's two free throws with only seconds remaining in the game assured the Longhorns of the crown.
Following the AIA's presentation, which took place at halftime of the Class 3A state championship showdown, the players, coaches and their families moved their celebration to Majerle's Sports Grill where they reveled with one another about the wonders of the state championship run.
At the celebration, Farrell Hoosava presented each of teammates with a 8x10-inch replica of the banner Payson High was awarded when the team won the crown. The original banner hangs in Wilson Dome. Hoosava also gave each player a personalized traveling bag.
In addition to honoring the PHS team, the AIA recognized state title winners from other school size classifications that existed 25 years ago.
The other '79 state champs were St. Mary's (5A), Winslow (4A), Wilcox (3A) and McNary (1A).