Hard-nosed, unselfish play has paid off for Payson High senior point guard Ever Figueroa.
The rewards arrived March 14 in the form of his naming as an honorable mention athlete on the prestigious Class 1A-3A All-State basketball team.
Figueroa was the only Longhorn player to receive the state honor.
Alchesay’s shooting star Rasta Nashio was the single East region player chosen either first or second team. He was named second team after leading the region in scoring at 29 ppg.
Several other East players, however, joined Figueroa as honorable mention.
They included Dunkin Donaldson (Round Valley), Brett Haws (Round Valley), Kelly Kellywood (Blue Ridge), Robby Martindale (Snowflake) and Josh Weeks (Show Low).
The choice of Estrella Foothills’ Corey Hawkins to first team 1A-3A, All-Arizona first team and Small School Player of the Year was a surprise only to those who spent the past season muzzled, gagged and locked in a dark closet.
The 6-foot, 2-inch guard, who is bound for Arizona State, was possibly the most heralded player in the state, despite the fact he played for a “small school.”
Athletes from the 1A-3A ranks often get overlooked when all-star and all-state teams are named. Attention, instead, is focused on those representing the large 4A and 5A schools in the Valley and Tucson.
During the past season, Hawkins scored 1,152 points, a state record, and finished his career with 3,164 points, another Arizona record.
Last season, Figueroa averaged 12.0 ppg while engineering the Longhorn offense and playing solid defense, sometimes on the opponent’s top scorer.
As one of three team captains, he shouldered much of the leadership role when the other two captains — Dakota Marshall and Cody Waterman — went down with injuries.
In addition to his all-state honor, Figueroa was earlier named to the All-East region first team.
At the conclusion of the basketball season, he turned his attention to baseball and is now one of coach Jerry Daniels’ top players.
Lady Horns shut out
No Lady Longhorn basketball player was chosen first team, second team or honorable mention on the 1A-3A All-State team.
If the Lady Horns had a player that seemed deserving of the honor, it was senior Maddie Nossek.
She, however, was ignored despite finishing as the region’s third leading scorer (11.5 ppg).
Alchesay senior Maria Lupe, who has been a thorn in Payson’s side for the past four years, was chosen second team.
Another East player who gave the Lady Horns fits — Round Valley’s Nikki Buck — was named honorable mention.
Lupe and Buck finished 1-2 as the region’s leading individual scorers.
Both the boys and girls All-Arizona and All-State teams are chosen by the Arizona Republic sports staff with assistance from coaches’ ballots, all-region teams, interviews with coaches, statistics and reporters’ observations.