Ever since Jesse Foster took over the boys basketball program at Dadeville two years ago, the Tigers have been on the rise. They’ve hosted back-to-back area tournaments, winning it this past season, and one of their own, PJ Eason, is one of the most highly touted players in his class.

This week, Dadeville got another chance to make a name for itself on the hardwood when both Jay Patrick and Foster participated in the AHSAA North-South All-Star boys basketball game at Alabama State in Montgomery on Tuesday.

“It feels good to represent Dadeville,” Patrick said. “I wear that name across my chest, so it feels real good.”

Patrick was selected to play for the South team as one of the top rising juniors across the state. Although he played only seven minutes during Tuesday’s game, he still made those minutes count by grabbing a pair of buckets. He scored the final basket of the game, capping off an 88-75 victory for the South. 

But Patrick’s seven 

minutes on the court weren’t the only good experience he got this week. As part of the AHSAA Summer Conference, Patrick was selected to play amongst the best of the best in the state and practiced with the South team leading up to the game.

“It’s an honor to be here,” Patrick said. “There are a lot of good people out here, so I’m just blessed that I got picked. We got together with the South team a couple times and connected a lot over the two days. I learned a lot of drills from the coaches, and from the players, I learned leadership — a lot of leadership.” 

Patrick also had the advantage of playing under his own coach as Foster was selected as an assistant for the South team. Although Foster said he didn’t know how he was selected, he considered it a blessing for both himself and Patrick.

“Some had to nominate me for it, but I’m just blessed and thankful to be here,” Foster said. “It’s nothing but a blessing for us. We did a great job. We had a great time with these kids; I’ve never been on the floor with so much talent.”

Coaching amongst the best in the state and with the top players from around Alabama, Foster said his job was easy.

“It was great to coach athletes where you just sit over there and tell them to just go play basketball,” he said. “It don’t take no rocket science to coach these guys. What I learned from coaches is you gotta let kids play and have fun; you have to make it fun for them in practice. We did a few drills where we were running up and down the court, but for the most part, we just let these kids shoot, throw alley oops, let them dunk, just have a good time.”

Foster’s South team was led by Justin Bufford, who scored 19 points. Bufford was one of five players to finish in double figures. Antwan Burnett was named the South MVP after posting a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Kedrick Turnipseed scored 15 points, Robert Bonham poured in 12 and Michael Murry contributed 10.

Being around players with that kind of talent was a great opportunity for Patrick and the entire Dadeville team, according to Foster.

“That’s a great experience for our team,” he said. “(Patrick) made a big stepping stone for someone else to work to get here. I had to nominate him, and I’d be glad to nominate any of my guys. There were more that deserved to be here, and I’m just glad one of mine got selected.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.