Some of Payson High’s finest basketball players, athletes that earned all-region and all-state accolades, fine tuned their skills in the Town of Payson elementary school hoop leagues.
That makes the leagues a proving ground for fledgling players and an ideal place for players to prepare for the future.
Hunter Walden, Hunter Hardt, Niki Hale, Byron Quinlan, Miles Huff, Amy Wilcox and Colleen Hale are some of those who prepped in town leagues before going on to play in the Rim Country Middle School at PHS programs.
Currently, the town’s fifth and sixth grade boys and girls basketball leagues are under way, but players are enjoying a holiday respite until action resumes Jan. 7.
In the league, two games were played in December giving coaches and the young athletes an up close glimpse of their competition.
Once play begins again, games will be played each Saturday until Jan. 28.
On Jan. 7, team pictures will be taken and on Feb. 4, the players will gather to compete in a season-ending basketball skills challenge contest hosted by the town.
The boys league has drawn five teams — Suns, Grizzlies, Spurs, Jazz and Lakers.
The Storm, Mercury, Shock and Dream compete in the girls league.
All games are played from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Rim Country Middle School gymnasium.
In the fifth and sixth grade leagues, scores are recorded until one team takes a 15-point or more lead, which results in the score being zeroed out.
In the third and fourth grade league no score is kept to keep the games a recreational, educational and low stress athletic experience, town officials say.
Defensive restrictions in the fifth and sixth grade league prohibit players from using a backcourt defense or pressing until the ball has crossed the mid-court line.
However, full court pressure is allowed in the final two minutes of the game.
Also in the league, all substitutes sitting on the bench must be entered into the game at about the 4-minute mark of each 8-minute quarter.
The rule results in all players receiving court time, officials say.
While in the third and fourth grade league baskets were lowered to 8.5 feet from the floor, the baskets remain at a 10-foot height in the older league.
To learn more, call the Payson parks office at (928) 474-5241, extension 7.