Summer Boys Basketball Team Suffers Through First Taste Of Defeat

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The Payson High School boys summer league basketball team suffered its first taste of the agony of defeat.

The bitter flavor came June 5 during a head-to-head, off-season showdown at Scottsdale Christian.

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Levi Neal, who will be a senior at PHS next school year, spent part of a weekday morning practice session working on his three-point shooting. Neal will return to the Longhorn team as a junior letter winner with plenty of varsity experience.

In that game, the Payson team fell 46-42 to a gritty SC team.

"They didn't have one (dominate) player, they were all pretty good," said first-year coach, Kenny Hayes.

The loss came on the heels of the Payson team finishing 5-0 and winning the championship of the Blue Ridge Invitational.

Although the loss to Scottsdale Christian was disheartening, Hayes was encouraged by the defensive play of his charges.

"We played some pretty good ‘D' and we'll get better," he said.

During summer league play, the team will focus only on man-to-man schemes and not use any zone, until the regular season rolls around.

"Those will take time to learn," Hayes said.

Also at Scottsdale Christian, the PHS junior varsity team, coached by Josh Anderson, emerged victorious, 51-36, but the freshmen fell 52-44.

The freshman team will not officially have a coach until Hayes' selection is accepted by the school board and his paperwork is cleared in the district office.

Hayes did not want to name his recommendation for the freshman coach until his appointment is official.

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

Team members Robert Walker and Levi Neal, who were present at a team workout Tuesday morning in the old Payson High School gym, said they are looking forward to the competition, which will include some 4A and 5A schools.

The frays in the northland will also provide Walker an opportunity to win his second All-Tournament award of the season.

At the Blue Ridge Invitational, he was one of five players named to the Yellow Jacket All-Tournament team.

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

Also, weightlifting sessions are held 6 to 9 a.m. Monday through Thursdays.

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

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