With the Lady Longhorn basketball campaign at an end, most players are turning their attention to the spring sports of softball and track and field.
But before a total commitment can be made to those sports, basketball players will gather one final time for the traditional season-ending awards ceremony during which varsity letters will be handed out, participation certificates issued and the results of post season all-region team voting announced.
Lady Horn coach Kelly Krieg, who just wrapped up her first year as a varsity head coach, is not certain where and when the ceremony will be held, saying it mostly likely will be staged March 24, but complete details will not be announced until later this month.
Among the most notable announcements at the banquet will concern the All-East region team.
Because the Lady Horns (4-7 in the East; 9-18 overall) did not make the 16-team state tournament and finished fifth in the six-team region standings, Payson probably will not be well represented on the All-East team.
The rules governing post-season selections are simple — to the victor goes the spoils. And Payson was not a consistent victor.
Most of the individual laurels will probably go to the likes of Marie Lupe (Alchesay), and Nikki Buck (Round Valley). Both were legitimate East superstars last season, leading the region in about every category including scoring, rebounding and steals.
There were, however, a handful of thoroughbreds in the Lady Horns’ stable who could contend for region and state post-season honors.
Among them is Maddie Nossek, a senior who coaches and teachers laud as a genuinely good student, an exceptional athlete and a role model to fellow teens.
Although she missed several games during the season due to injuries, Nossek wrapped up the campaign as the Lady Horns’ leading scorer, averaging 11.5 ppg.
That mark was good enough for third place in the East.
About midway through the seasons, after coaches figured out she was the Lady Horns’ go-to player, she began to draw double teams and gimmick defenses.
In addition to her scoring, she was a strong rebounder, averaging 6.9 per game, which was a team high.
If the Lady Horns have any others on the roster in the running for post-season laurels it could be Jami Carlen and Chioya Hill.
Carlen is a sophomore and Hill only a freshman, which could mean a bright future for Krieg and her program.
Carlen, a very athletic off guard, averaged 6.1 ppg and teamed with point Rylee Halenar to give the Horns a solid backcourt.
An injury midway through the season slowed Carlen’s development, but Krieg is confident she has the dedication and motivation to build her skills during the off-season.
“She will come back ready to step up her game,” predicts the coach.
Hill, who came on late in the season, scored at a 4.7 ppg clip. Although she began the season playing wing, she was moved to point guard to fill in for an injured player. One of her best all-around games was turned in during a pulsating 34-33 loss to Blue Ridge. In it, she scored six points, corralled seven rebounds had two steals and showed moxie and hustle far beyond her young years.
In looking back over the season, Krieg says, “We wish we had won more games as we aren’t here to get beat up by all these teams.”
In an ongoing effort to build the team for next season’s hardwood wars, Krieg has scheduled a rigorous off-season program.
“We are excited to attend tournaments, camps and open gyms this offseason in order to improve our program,” she said.
The coach will announce soon the dates, times and places for the off-season program, including a young players’ camp on June 11 and 12.