Fort Payne High School’s boys basketball teams made the most of their opportunity in getting live game action when the school hosted its first play date of the summer Tuesday.

Seven schools were represented during the day of exhibition games and competitions ranged from the varsity to the ninth-grade level. Pisgah, North Sand Mountain, Etowah, Southside-Gadsden, Guntersville, Kate Duncan Smith DAR and Boaz all fielded teams at the big play date.

“I appreciate all the schools from the area who brought their teams. It made for a great day of basketball,” said Michael Banks, Fort Payne varsity boys basketball head coach. “All of our teams got better and got some much-needed experience.”

Fort Payne’s varsity team mixed and matched on-court personnel throughout the day and went 2-1, defeating DAR and Pisgah before taking a loss against Etowah.

Each game consisted of two 20-minute halves with a running clock. Shooting fouls drew one free-throw attempt and counted for two or three points, depending on the particular foul. 

For the Wildcats’ varsity, Banks felt like the team played its most complete game against DAR. 

“We got down early, fought back to a good lead at halftime, then DAR came back,” the coach said. “We went through some adversity, but found a way to pull it out in the end. Guys stepped up and made plays when they had to. I also thought the defense and rebounding was at its best against DAR.”

As the summer rolls along, Banks said his team will continue working to find where some players fit in best with each lineup coming to the floor. During Tuesday’s exhibitions, Banks said he observed some players taking steps toward earning additional playing time. 

“One positive is the guys play hard. They don’t always make the correct play, but the effort is there,” he said. “We can fix the mistakes, but the effort is up to them.”

Aside from finding where players can mix in and help produce positive results, Banks said another offseason goal for the team will be becoming stronger with its shooting.

“We made very few 3s all day,” he said. “The style we play, we have to make open shots. It wasn’t there today, but we’re going to shoot until we develop some shooters.” 

The Wildcats have play dates at Alexandria, Albertville and Southside within the next two weeks and will wrap up summer competition at a team camp at the University of West Florida on Thursday, June 24.

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