All-State Team Overlooks Two Of Payson's Deserving Players

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Posting a 23-9 record, winning the co-championship of the East region and finishing second in the state tournament wasn't enough to earn a Longhorn boys basketball player a slot on either the Class 1A-3A All-State first or second team. PHS players were also absent from the honorable mention list, which included about 30 representatives from around small-school Arizona.

Missing from the all-state teams when they were announced last week in The Arizona Republic were two of the Horns' finest players -- Miles Huff and Oliver Lewinson.

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Miles Huff

But included on the celestial squad were some seemingly less accomplished players whose teams weren't among the state's best, as were the Longhorns.

The sports staff of The Arizona Republic chooses the all-state teams.

A Republic spokesman said, "The players are chosen via a coaches' ballot, all-region teams interviews with coaches, statistics and reporters' observations are used in the selection process." The newspaper also maintains a Web site where readers may vote for their favorite players.

In passing over Huff as an all-state team member, the staff neglected a player many considered the East's premier point guard who ran away with the region's assist title, doling out 197. Huff also was second in the East in steals, with 82, and, although his offensive goal was to set up his teammates, he was able to score at a 9.6 points-per-game clip, making him the 11th leading scorer in the East.

If Huff had a skill during his four years of PHS basketball that went unnoticed, it was his rebounding.

During the past season, he corralled 97 missed shots or about 3.3 per game -- a mark that ranked him 13th in the region along with much taller players who play the forward and center positions.

Having a point guard become one of a team's leading rebounders occurs about as often as Shaquille O'Neal swishes both ends of a one-and-one free throw situation.

Huff was also a strong candidate for the East's Player of the Year honor that eventually went to Holbrook's Olen Hatch. The 6-foot, 4-inch senior center forward was also named the all-state Player of the Year.

Coach Chuck Hardt contended in the all-region voting that Huff should have been the player selected the POY of the East.

In neglecting Lewinson for the all-state teams, voters passed on a 6-foot, 8-inch junior center who has the raw potential to someday play on the D-1 level. Last year, Lewinson was far and away the defensive star in the region, blocking 83 shots from his position down low where he continually denied opponents' lay-ups, put backs and short jumpers.

The East's second leading shot blocker, Payton Flake of Snowflake, had just 29 blocks.

Offensively, Lewinson was the team's leading scorer, averaging 16.6 ppg, which was second in the East behind Hatch.

Lewinson was also the team and region rebounding leader with 316. Hatch finished a distant second in the East with 274.

It was Hatch who dominated in post-season individual awards, but Huff, Lewinson and their teammates were the ones to excel where it counts most -- in team play. During the campaign, the Horns defeated the Roadrunners in four consecutive games including a thrilling, 58-57, win in the state semifinals.

Although both Huff and Lewinson were excluded from the All-State team, both were selected members of the All-East team when it was chosen at season's end in a voting of region coaches.

Huff will graduate this spring with the class of 2007 and possibly continue his career on the collegiate level.

Lewinson returns to the Longhorn fold next year as a senior, giving the Horns probably the finest "big man" prospect the team has had in its history.

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