Alex Bunk and the senior members of the Longhorn basketball squad were good friends and teammates through middle school and their freshman year at PHS.
Some remember them, especially Bunk and Miles Huff, as being almost inseparable.
Today, the teens continue to be friends, but are no longer teammates.
At the conclusion of Bunk's freshman year at Payson High School, his family pulled up stakes and moved to Fountain Hills where the ex-Horn went on to star for the Falcon basketball team.
Ironically, at Fountain Hills, Bunk was coached by former PHS junior varsity basketball coach Craig Jagodzinski. The presence of the two gave the Falcon team a distinctive Payson flair during its back-to-back runs to Class 3A Arizona state championships.
While a freshman at PHS, Bunk was the leading scorer and rebounder on a Longhorn team that finished the season 17-0. On the undefeated team with Bunk were Bryson Addington, Carlos Lopez, Matt Jones, Hunter Hardt and Huff who are all now senior members of the PHS varsity.
Throughout the freshman campaign, the six took turns leading the PHS victory parade. In a 61-43 win over Page, Huff, Hardt and Bunk combined for 43 points. Huff, Lopez and Bunk hooked up for 30 points in Payson's 53-30 victory at Flagstaff Coconino.
Although Bunk now lives in the Valley area, he continues to maintain close ties with his PHS friends. He returned two years ago to play in an adult town league and again last spring to participate on a Payson team entered in an off-season club tournament.
In it, he and his former teammates clicked as they did when they were freshmen. The team finished 4-0, won the varsity division tournament gold and qualified for a Las Vegas championship showdown.
Bunk's return delighted former teammates including Huff who said, "We're glad he came back for this."
With the 2006-2007 high school season under way, Bunk had an opportunity to once again be on the same court with his ex-teammates on Dec. 6 when the Payson varsity traveled to Fountain Hills High School for a non-region showdown.
This time, however, Bunk was leading the Falcon parade as the team's leading scorer.
In Fountain Hills' 74-61 win over the Longhorns, Bunk was his usual high scoring self with a game high of 22 points that included four three-point bombs from beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc and 4-of-6 free throw shooting. He also led the Falcons with five rebounds, had one blocked shot, three steals and two assists. For some Horn fans, his performance brought back memories of four years ago when he was wearing the purple and gold rather than the silver and blue of the Falcons.