Basketball play dates fun, helpful for players

West Limestone's Carlie Winter drives to the basket against Deshler in a girls basketball play date Tuesday at Athens High School. Play dates such as this are important for teams to prepare for the upcoming season.

For the second time in two weeks, Athens High School welcomed seven schools from around North Alabama to compete in a girls basketball play date.

Middle school, junior varsity and varsity teams participated. The play dates are one more example of players refusing to let up during summer and doing everything they can to prepare themselves for the upcoming season, which starts in November.

“To really compete and be a good team, it's about a year-round sport now,” East Limestone High girls basketball coach Josh Davis said. “I guess all sports really are now. It makes it hard on the kids to really play multiple sports when you've got year-round stuff going on, but for a team to be successful during the season, it takes a lot of work in the offseason.”

Athens High girls basketball coach Eddie Murphree organized the play dates as a way to not only see how his girls stacked up from other teams around the area but also to break up the monotony of constant practices where the focus was on fitness and fundamentals.

Athens High hosted a play date last week that had 13 schools and 26 total games.

“Our offseason consists of strength and conditioning and a lot of skill development,” Murphree said. “We're just trying to do everything we can do to help our girls become better athletes and better players fundamentally. The play dates are fun for them and just icing on the cake.”