Basketball Coach Strengthens Team With Summer Of Training

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Kenny Hayes knows well the strengths and weaknesses of most all his senior basketball players.

His familiarity rests in the knowledge he's acquired, having coached the talented group since they were freshmen.

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Robert Walker was chosen to the Blue Ridge All-tournament team during a summer shootout, played June 1 and 2 in Lakeside.

Now, as the newly appointed head varsity coach, Hayes is using his understanding of the players to guide them through a summer of off-season tournaments, conditioning and weight lifting, designed to help the young athlete better prepare for the rigors of the 2007-2008 campaign.

Hayes' off-season agenda tipped off June 1 at the 12-team Blue Ridge Yellow Jacket Classic in Lakeside-Pinetop.

There, the PHS summer squad compiled a 5-0 record and won the tournament championship.

Individually, Robert Walker was chosen to the All-Tournament team in a voting of coaches.

Walker's return to the lineup was a much-welcomed addition. He's been sidelined since January, when he suffered an ankle injury while jostling with a teammate in Wilson Dome.

"It was good to be back (from the injury)," he said. "I had a lot of fun finally playing."

During the early part of the 2006-2007 season, Walker was the outside shooter and rebounder that then-coach Chuck Hardt was looking for to round out his starting five.

Although his injury kept him on the sidelines all season, Walker has since shown the potential to become one of the region's finest players.

On the opening day of the tournament in pool play, it was Walker's three-pointer with only seconds remaining in the game that lifted the Longhorns to a 62-60 win over Round Valley.

"That was our toughest game of the tournament by far," Hayes said.

Later in pool play, the Rim summer squad easily disposed of Miami, 50-34, and Blue Ridge No. 2, 73-45.

The three wins set the stage for championship-round play on June 2.

Payson opened with a 55-42 win over longtime East rival Snowflake.

"I think that was my best game," said Walker, who scored 20 points in the win.

Following the caging of the Lobos, Payson slipped past Alchesay, 57-50, in the championship finale.

Last season, Alchesay and the Horns met in several memorable showdowns before the Falcons sneaked past runner-up Payson for the East region championship.

"They lost all their seniors from that team," Hayes said.

During the second day of play in Lakeside, the Payson roster was reduced from 11 to eight players, because some seniors were scheduled to take ACT tests.

The team returned to action June 4 in a single game at Scottsdale Christian.

Also on the summer agenda is a Flagstaff tournament June 8 and 9 and another June 15 and 16 at Northern Arizona University.

Open gym for all players is held 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays in Wilson Dome.

Also, weight-lifting sessions are held 6 to 9 a.m. Monday through Thursdays.

For more information, call Hayes at (928) 474-2233.

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