Thanks to the Tonto Apache Tribe, the Payson High School boy's basketball team traveled to the state championship game in style.
For the title showdown, which was played Feb. 23 at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, the tribe donated a chartered state-of-the-art travel bus. Which meant, rather than snail-pace motoring to Glendale on rock hard bench seats with little leg room -- as is the case with the yellow school busses the team usually travels on --he players, coaches and cheerleaders enjoyed padded reclining seats, televisions, air conditioning and a bus powerful enough to at least travel the speed limit
"It (the bus) was much better than what we usually have," coach Kenny Hayes said. "We are grateful to them (the tribe) for many things they did for us this season."
Among the other benefits the team enjoyed was the tribe's hosting of breakfast coaches meetings during the season and the annual awards banquet, which was held Wednesday evening in the Mazatzal Casino conference room. Both the boys and girls basketball teams were honored at the fest. Lady Horn coach Stacy Anderson and Hayes doled out varsity letter, all-region and all-state certificates and named the recipients of the Longhorn pride and best free throw percentage awards.
Team members voted on Pride Award winners. For the boys team, Robert Walker won the Pride citation and the free throw award. Anderson gave the coveted Pride prize to Brittany McDaniel and Cydney Figueroa was the recipient of the free throw honor.