Winning the East region regular season and tournament championships is paying nice-sized dividends for coach Kenny Hayes and members of the Longhorn boys basketball team.
The rewards include having six players named to all-region honors, three to the all-tournament team and Hayes' choice as the "Coach of the Year."
The players tapped first team included Robert Walker, Levi Neal, Cody York and Shane Keith. Tyler Savage and Matt Wilson were named honorable mention.
Walker, York and Wilson were chosen to the All-East tournament team.
All were tapped in a balloting of coaches held Feb. 7 in Eagar-Springerville.
For Walker, his selection to both the all-region and all-tournament teams represents a personal vindication of sorts.
Last season, after a tremendous start, he was sidelined with a broken ankle suffered in a horseplay accident in the gym. Wearing a cast, he was relegated to spectator during the Horns run to the state championship game.
This year, as a senior, he has dominated statistically, averaging 11.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
York, a junior who was a stalwart on last year's team, also sports an all-around floor game.
By averaging 10.9 points and 2.1 steals, he was equally effective at both ends of the floor.
Neal, a senior guard who's been playing basketball since he was a tyke, has the ability to both drive to the hoop and hit the jumpers from outside. His versatility allowed him to contribute 10.1 ppg and heady floor play to the Longhorncause.
In Hayes's controlled fast-break offense, Keith held down the all-important point guard position. Although he wasn't a prolific scorer (5.0 ppg), he was the player whose responsibility it was to engineer the offense and get the ball to the open man.
By selecting him first team, coaches recognized the importance of his role.
Wilson, a 6-foot, 6-inch forward/center, is possibly known more for his contributions on the gridiron, than the hardwood.
As a basketball player, he was the rock-solid foundation on which the team's success was built. Playing down low, he clogged the middle on defense, started the fast break after rebounds and battled for second-shot attempts off teammates' misses. He averaged 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
At 6-foot, 4-inches, Savage gave the Longhorns another potent offensive weapon, averaging 7.6 points and 5.4 rebounds.
During the regular season, the Longhorns posted a perfect 10-0 East record and in most games were seldom tested.