Banquet For Longhorns Is March 19

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The Payson High School basketball awards ceremony set for 6:30 p.m., March 19 in the events room at the Mazatzal Casino will fete both the girls and boys teams on all three levels, freshman through varsity.

During it, coaches will honor players with certificates, varsity letters and post-season all-star honors.

The girls will be celebrating a commendable 22-8 season and a share of the East region title with Round Valley and Alchesay.

The girls' season took an unusual twist, when for the second successive year a coach resigned. Coach Grant Coley resigned with only seven games remaining in the regular season.

Physical education teacher Stacy Anderson replaced him.

The year prior under Coley, the team earned both the East regular season and tournament championships, but was disqualified from state due to an ineligible player.

An outraged parent group ended up hiring a lawyer and the move to requalify the team for state ended up in the court system.

The efforts failed though, and the girls had to watch the tournament from the stands.

You can bet school administrators have their fingers crossed hoping that next year's girls' basketball season goes off without a hitch.

During the upcoming awards assembly, the boys' team will be celebrating an East region championship and a second successive state runner-up showing.

The ceremonies could turn emotional for the seniors who will be participating in the final event of their prep basketball careers.

Legends in the stands

In attendance at the boys' state basketball championship game between Payson and Estrella Foothills were four men who all played prominent roles in building the foundation for Longhorn sports and athletic programs.

They included Tom Meck, Terry Nodlinski, Ted Pettet and Farrell Hoosava.

Meck, now retired from the education profession, was formerly the PHS principal, athletic director and the coach of several successful baseball teams.

Nodlinski coached the Longhorn football team for more than a decade leading the team to the 1981 state championship. "Nod" also served a stint as the school's baseball coach.

Pettet, one of the original coaches at PHS, helped the Longhorns gain prominence in baseball and basketball.

He also has coached football at Rim Country Middle School and was one of the founders of the local Little League program.

Hoosava was a member of Payson High's only state basketball champion team and remains active today in supporting all school sports.

Hoosava is a founding member of the Payson Friends and Neighbor (FAN) club.

You can bet the family farm that when those four got together for the state game, there was some genuine Longhorn bull-oney being spread in the stands.

Fans sitting nearby, might have had to don their wading boots.

Remembering Gracie

Gracie Haught Tournament Director Charlene Hunt says brackets have been finalized and will be published soon for the prep softball fray to be played March 28-29.

The annual tournament is one of the highlights of the Lady Longhorns season.

Building the tournament into a top-notch event has been a goal of Hunt's since the inception of the event in 2005.

She says the tournament is a way of honoring the memory of 3-year-old Gracie, who was killed Feb. 6, 2004 in a tragic accident in Star Valley.

At the time, her mother, Bobbie Joe Haught, was the Lady Longhorns' junior varsity softball coach and the young girl was a frequent visitor to practice and games.

Following the toddler's death, coaches at Payson High met to organize the memorial tournament.

"We wanted to honor her family and all that Bobbie Jo had done for the program," coach Will Dunman said.

"This is our way of showing our respect for Gracie and the family."

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