Phs Senior Named To State's Most Prestigious Postseason Game

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A teenage basketball junkie who models his game after two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash has been chosen to participate in the state's most prestigious postseason game.

Miles Huff, a Payson High School senior, was selected as a member of the North team in the annual North vs. South All-Star game to be played at 4 p.m. June 16 at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher.

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Among those who helped lead the Longhorn basketball team to a second-place finish were Oliver Lewinson, Miles Huff and coaches Kenny Hayes and Chuck Hardt. At the conclusion of the season, Huff was named an Arizona Coaches Association all-star and Hardt was chosen a coach of the team.

The all-star teams were selected March 11 in Phoenix by members of the Arizona Coaches Association.

For the past 50 years, the ACA star games have pitted the most outstanding graduating seniors against one another in one final prep clash.

By being chosen an ACA all-star, Huff joins the ranks of several former Longhorn standouts, in all sports, who have played in the games.

They include Rachel Ray (softball), Nate Lee (wrestling), Nick Cassuto (basketball) Amberlyn White (basketball), Travis Sanders (soccer), Andrew Karlowski (soccer), Mark Velasco (football) and Waylon Pettet (baseball and football).

Last fall, Zak Miller was selected to participate in the all-star football game in June.

Huff said being chosen was a huge honor and he was looking forward to playing in the celestial shootout alongside some of the players he's battled against during his four-year prep hoop career, "It'll be fun."

On the North team with Huff from the East region are Holbrook's Olen Hatch, Keith Wilcox of Blue Ridge, Isaac Roberts of Alchesay, Round Valley's Jon Gillespie and Alchesay shooting star, Blaine Lupe.

Steve Currier of Surrey Gardens, 1A-2A state champions, will coach the North team, along with Payson's Chuck Hardt.

Last year, Huff and Hardt led the Longhorns to an East region runner-up finish and a second-place showing in the state tournament. After winning three consecutive state games, the Horns were beaten, 53-41, in the 3A finale by three-time state champion, Fountain Hills.

The team's showing was the best for a PHS squad since the Longhorns won the state 2A title in 1979.

Team leader

All season long, Huff -- playing point guard -- engineered the Horns' floor game, taking advantage of fast break opportunities when they presented themselves and pulling up to run the pattern offense when the quick-strike opportunities were not an option.

His heady play and ability to bring the ball up court against pressing defenses were the keys to the Longhorns run through the state tournament.

Standing tall in command was nothing new for Huff, who has been an integral part of the teams he played on, since elementary school.

While some young players must score to be effective, Huff was at his best setting up his teammates and dishing out assists, much like his role model Nash does for the high-powered Phoenix Suns' offense.

During the 2006-2007 season, Huff ran away with the region's assist title, doling out 197. He 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 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 inside positions.

His ability to sneak underneath and snare key rebounds often proved to be the bane of frustrated opponents.

Although Huff's well-rounded skills earned his a spot on the All-East first team, Hardt often lobbied for him to be the region's MVP -- an honor that went to Hatch.

"(Huff) deserved (MVP) considering what he contributed (to the team)," Hardt said.

With his prep career at an end, Huff has his sights set on playing at the next level. He and close friend, Alex Bunk, a member of the Fountain Hills state championship team, will travel the state the next few months, participating in scrimmage and tryouts at various colleges.

"We'll go to Yavapai (in Prescott) and some other schools," he said. The pair hope to gain enough recognition in the scrimmages to eventually garner invitations to team tryouts next fall.

Huff said he would consider attending most any school, but has his sights set on one particular university.

"Northern Arizona University is where I'd really like to go," he said.

He is undecided on an academic major.

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