Once again the high school summer basketball league at the Starkville Sportsplex served the purpose for which it was intended.
The league that finished up competition last Thursday for the third-straight summer brought together prep programs from the area and created matchups that don't normally happen during the school year.
"This was a tool for coaches to play different competition and teams they don't play a lot of times," Starkville Parks and Recreation Director of Athletics Sammy Willcutt said. "It was a learning process and gives them an opportunity to play games during the summer.
"It was a good experience for the coaches to get more familiar with their younger players and how they are going to react in game-type situations."
There were 27 teams, including high school boys and girls and junior varsity boys and girls, that played a little over 100 games from the last day of May and through June.
Willcutt understands when you have so many teams participating in a league during the summer, there are going to be some scheduling conflicts and minor problems along the way.
One of the most challenging aspects of the league is scheduling, but Willcutt was quick to give credit where it was due to make everything come together.
"Teams have other commitments during June with team camps, girls softball, tennis and other activities," Willcutt said. "My assistant Sheila Coleman did a great job of working around those conflicts and put together a competitive schedule for each team."
With programs such as Oak Hill Academy in Clay County and Heritage Academy, Immanuel Christian School and West Lowndes in Lowndes County, Willcutt realizes there were some sacrifices made in terms of travel so the teams could take part in the league.
Willcutt was pleased that the teams were on time for its scheduled games for the most part this season. He said the discipline to show up to the Starkville Sportsplex gymnasium was very important to have a good league.
Brian Middleton, the boys coach at Oak Hill Academy, said the experience of putting his Raiders through the league was worth the drive.
"We don't see this level of competition all of the time and it's good for us to see this during the summer," Middleton said. "It helps us see where we've got to go from here.
"We've gotten better and the speed of the game is good for us. You just have to be fundamentally sound out here."
Willcutt thanked everyone who made the league a success and looks forward to continuing next year.
"We're just glad to have all of the people that participated," Willcutt said. "Our officials and scorekeepers did a good job.
"A lot of the teams were here the last two years and we had some new ones this year. We hope to grow where we have more teams next year, but I think everybody had a good time and enjoyed it."