Sparkman Girls Basketball To Host Largest Play Date
HARVEST- Play Dates have become almost a necessity for a high school basketball team to be successful. Play Dates were formed several years ago as a way for a team to obtain extra practice time and remain within the guidelines and rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) regarding limited time a coach can actually be with their players on the court during the off season.
Second-year head coach Jarvis Wilson of Sparkman’s girls program is well-versed on how well Play Dates can play in the improvement and development of individual players and their advancement with a team. The 2023 Class 7A Coach of the Year led the Lady Senators to state runner-up falling to Hoover in the State Championship game, plus being named ASWA Coach of the Year three previous seasons at other schools.
Wilson has arranged Sparkman’s first hosting of a Play Date on June 13 with high-level action going from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the three gymnasiums on the school campus located on Jeff Road in Harvest. The event will be the largest Play Date in North Alabama as 15 teams are scheduled to participate.
“The action will include both varsity and junior varsity games with five of the teams which played in the State Championship game in their respective classifications,” said Wilson, who has attracted the enormously talented lineup of teams.
Besides Sparkman, other schools with the state game resumes include Hazel Green (6A), Pleasant Grove (5A), Huffman (6A) and Tupelo, Miss. (6A). Additional talent of the game agenda will come from Lincoln County, Tenn., Gadsden City, Brooks, Mortimer Jordan, Carver and Lee.
Each game will feature 18-minute halves with a running clock and each team receiving two time outs. One free throw for fouls with then bonus-style shots on the fifth foul as the new high school rules have done away with one-and-one foul shots.
Admission is $10 per person with children 5-under admitted free.
Sparkman is coming off a 26-10 season. The upcoming 2023-2024 season roster for the Lady Senators will be without three graduating seniors from last year’s squad, but Wilson said he believes he will have plenty of returning talent, but some of that expected expertise will not be on the court come next week’s Play Date.
“Abethany James (5-9, Sr.) had recent knee surgery, Elise McClain (6-0, So.) is out due to an ankle fracture and Jalei O’Neal (5-11, Sr.) recently moved to Florida,” said Wilson.
One addition to the squad will be Darryn Goode who will make her debut on the team after playing in Huntsville at McNair Middle School. The 5-foot-8 point guard will arrive on campus as the No. 2 eighth grade player in the country. She also recently participated in the U.S. Junior Olympics Trials and will battle for playing time as she will be among those highly recruited for the class of 2027.
“We’re looking to build our team this summer as we’ll be very young on the post and guard heavy,” added Wilson. “We’re trying to figure out all of what we have on this team.”
As for the Play Date competition, defending State Champion Hazel Green will most likely be reloading as the squad will feature several transfers. Tupelo will bring a good solid squad and Huffman will compete with an abundance of good, young guards.
“We wanted to host this Play Date for years here at Sparkman,” said Wilson.