The Question Of ‘What If?'

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I would like to take a moment to imagine, "What if?"

As in, "what if" Alex Bunk hadn't transferred to Fountain Hills High School from Payson High at the conclusion of his freshman year?

Had he not departed Longhorn land, PHS might now be celebrating its first state basketball championship since 1979 and Fountain Hills wouldn't be reveling in its third consecutive 3A title.

But, as it is, Bunk led the Falcons to a 53-41 victory over his former teammates in the 3A state title game played Feb. 24 at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.

The previous evening, Bunk was the star in the Falcons' 66-65 double-overtime state semifinal win over Coolidge.

Over the course of two nights, the former Longhorn scored 59 points.

After Bunk and his family left Payson in the summer of 2004, the teenager went on to become a starter on Fountain Hills' three consecutive state championship teams.

His coach for the first two titles was former PHS social studies teacher Cain Jagodzinski, who left Fountain Hills this past year for another coaching position.

Although Bunk has now attended Fountain Hills for three years, he remains close with his former PHS teammates, especially senior point guard Miles Huff.

Bunk expressed hope at a state quarterfinal game Feb. 16 in Flagstaff that his team would eventually meet Payson in the finals.

"That would be fun to play against my friends," he said.

Seniors' last game

The Class of 2007 first made a splash on the Rim Country basketball scene in 2002 as seventh-grade champions of the White Mountain League. The coach of that team was Ross Carpenter, who has been a varsity assistant the past two seasons.

The nucleus of that Rim Country Middle School gold-medal-winning squad was Matt Jones, Carlos Lopez, Hunter Hardt, Huff and Bunk.

Jones, Lopez, Hardt and Huff went on to become senior members of the recent PHS state runner-up squad.

In 2003, as eighth-graders, the Class of 2007 continued to shine on the hardwood, finishing second in White Mountain League play.

The following year, with Bunk leading the way as the team's leading scorer, the Longhorn freshmen compiled a 17-0 record.

Although Bunk, one of the key ingredients of the team's success from 2002 to 2004, left Payson in favor of Fountain Hills, enough of the team remained to give the 2007 Longhorn state runner-up crew a strong corps of leaders.

It would have been exciting to see what the current PHS team could have accomplished, had the RCMS seventh-graders of 2002 remained intact through high school.

But it wasn't to be.

Bunk moved on, as did his former teammates.

Although they wore different colored uniforms Saturday evening in Glendale, a strong friendship continues to exist among Bunk and his fellow seniors.

It has its roots on the basketball court.

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