Picayune Basketball Association gives children opportunity to play ball

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 10, 2018

The inaugural season of the Picayune Basketball Association will come to an end today where six-teams will battle for the league’s championship title after a five-month season.

The PBA is a basketball league for younger boys, those attending kindergarten through sixth grade.

The league was created by Picayune Memorial High School Head boys basketball Coach Kelton Thompson, who said he felt there was a need for a youth basketball league in the area.

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“Whether a child is interested in football, basketball, soccer, baseball or any other sport, Picayune is a sports town,” Thompson said. “Our goal is to provide children with a platform where they can develop their basketball skills at an early age.”

The league is broken into four age groups, which include a kindergarten league, 1st and 2nd grade league, 3rd and 4th grade league and 5th and 6th grade league.

All games take place at Kelly Wise Memorial Gymnasium and participants include children from Pearl River County and Hancock County.

“We went into this project not knowing what kind of turnout we would have but by the end, about 130 children signed up,” Thompson said. “Just like anything else, there were some kinks to work out and we made some adjustments as the year went on. Moving forward, there are things we can and will do to improve the league but I have been very pleased with the turnout we have had, from the number of people signing up to the quality of coaching.”

The PBA includes 14 teams across all leagues and volunteer coaches help children improve their basketball skills by practicing two or three nights per week.

“The coaches have done a great job and I can’t thank them enough for taking time out of their week to come and practice with the children,” Thompson said. “The coaches have given all the children an introduction to basketball and it’s built some enthusiasm for the sport in our community, which was one of our goals when we started.”

Leading up to the beginning of the season, Thompson and other volunteers shared information about the upcoming basketball league throughout social media and the community in order to raise awareness.

Despite their best efforts to alert the community, Thompson said he still heard comments from children and parents that they wished they would have known about the basketball league so they could have signed up.

Due to those comments, Thompson expects the number of participants to grow in the coming years.

“I expect to add a girls league next year,” Thompson said. “We want to give everyone an opportunity to develop an interest and love for the game of basketball.”

Heading into the summer, Picayune Memorial High School will also host a public basketball camp from June 25th to the 28th. More details will be available at a later date.

“I want to thank my administration here at Picayune and the school district for allowing us to have the opportunity to conduct this basketball league and do it in a manner that’s been beneficial to the program and the community,” Thompson said. “I also want to thank everyone who has given their time and effort to make this thing possible. Moving forward, we’re all very excited about what this league can grow into and see what it does for the community and also see what it does for the sport of basketball in the community.”