A trio of Payson High School’s finest basketball players this past season has reaped Division III all-state honors.
Tanner Hintze, Cole Belcher and Teanna Lopez received honorable mention accolades when the selections were announced March 11 by The Arizona Republic.
Although none of the three were named to the first or second team, being honorable mention is a commendable performance because this year prep teams competed for the first time in a new division-section format that replaced the previous conference-region configuration.
In the new alignment there are many more teams in a division than there were previously in conferences and that translates into many more players competing and battling for post season honors.
Hintze, a 6-foot, 4-inch forward-center, led the Longhorns to a 16-13 record and a berth in the division championship tournament. Only a junior, Hintze will return next season to anchor a team that loses six seniors who will graduate in the spring with the class of 2012.
During the 2011-2012 campaign, Hintze led the team in scoring averaging 15.4 ppg, which was sixth, highest in Section III and 12th best in D-III.
Most of his points came in the low blocks where he was able to muscle his way to the hoop for layups, turnaround jumpers, put backs or be fouled.
In fact, he led the Horns in free throw attempts with 122, making 87. That mark was third highest in S-III.
Hintze also led the Horns on the boards averaging 5.4 rebounds per game.
Belcher proved to be a perfect front line compliment to Hintze averaging 11.4 ppg and hauling in an average of 6.3 rebounds per game.
An unselfish player, he dished out 63 assists. Defensively, Belcher had 42 steals and blocked 20 shots.
Lopez’s season was cut short in January due to a shoulder injury, but when on the court she was one of the section’s most prolific three-point shooters.
In one of the first games of the season, a 75-67 loss to Mingus, she hit 4-of-9 three pointers giving onlookers a preview or her range
Her 13.8 ppg scoring average was best on a 13-13 team that missed out on earning a state tournament berth via the power points route.
Lopez began the season on a tear scoring in double digits in nine of Payson’s first 10 games, but then she tailed off before being sidelined with the injury.
Her finest game of the season might have been a 39-37 win over Lake Havasu in which she scored a season’s high 22 points.