In Elvis Presley’s 1956 rock ’n’ roll hit “Heartbreak Hotel,” he sang of “being at the end of Lonely Street.”
If the King were alive today, he’d have plenty of company on that solitary boulevard. His companions would be Payson High and East Region basketball players who found themselves out in the cold when The Arizona Republic announced March 22 the All-Arizona and All-State teams.
On the Class 1A-3A All-State boys team, the only East representative is Payson’s Cody York. Although he was the region’s Player of the Year and its leading scorer, York received only honorable mention accolades.
While the East was generally regarded as having an off year in terms of overall talent, the region did feature several quality players including T.J. Peters (Round Valley), Payton Flake (Snowflake) and Cameron Jacobs (Show Low).
Among the Republic’s 1A-3A All-State girls selections, Payson did not have a player chosen first team, second team or honorable mention.
That slight occurred despite the Lady Horns turning in a remarkable year in which they were 24-7, won the East regular season and tournament championships and took eventual state champion Monument Valley to the wire before losing a 47-46 heartbreaker.
Among the PHS standouts passed over is senior Christina Deaton, a McDonald’s All-American nominee.
She finished the past campaign as the Lady Horns’ leading scorer, averaging 12.1 ppg.
She also corralled 206 rebounds, blocked a 3A-high 73 shots and doled out 53 assists.
Those types of stats have PHS hoop fans scratching their noggins wondering how she could have been left out of All-State recognition.
The East Region girls did fare better overall than the boys teams with Round Valley’s Nikki Buck being chosen All-State second team and Alchesay’s Quintina Aday and Noel Hinton earning honorable mentions.
The All-State team was dominated by selections from the reservation area teams including Chinle, Monument Valley and Winslow.
On the boys All-State team, 3A state champion Estrella Foothills had three players honored alongside a slew of athletes on the 2A Valley-area parochial teams that have dominated that conference the past 10-plus years.
The reservation schools were also well represented including some athletes the Longhorns faced during the past season.
Chinle, which eliminated Payson from the state tournament, had Mathias Claw, Denzel Harvey and Koyai Clauschee selected All-State.