PEPPERELL -- If you have driven past the Sean Wellington Memorial Basketball Courts in Pepperell on Tuesday and Thursday nights in June and July, you might have wondered what was happening.

The Pepperell Summer Basketball League opened its season Tuesday night, and second-year league director Eric Middleton and his assistant Dave Lorden are pleased with how the league has grown.

"The community support has been very strong the past couple of years," Middleton said. "A few years back, you were lucky to have girlfriends or friends of the guys who are playing. Last year is when I really started to notice it was gaining popularity.

"I want to let people know that there is a league going on. Hopefully, we can reach people who do not know what is going on in Pepperell."

Middleton, a five-year veteran player in the league, took over as director last season, and he has already instituted new changes to help streamline the logistics of running the eight-to-10 team league.

To help keep players updated throughout the season with scores, PSBL created its own Facebook page

"I designed a website and a Facebook page for the league, but I am really using the Facebook page right now because that's where everyone is at," Middleton said. "Everybody is all about social media."

In previous seasons, teams were left to solicit their own sponsorship and pay individual league fees ... not anymore.


Middleton has left it up to the captains of each team to get enough players and collect the money, so the focus can be on playing basketball.

Middleton provides each team with a sponsor, which are comprised of local businesses in Pepperell and other surrounding communities.

Sponsor names are plastered all over the courts on banners and on the player's jerseys.

"We have four new companies from the area as sponsors this year," Middleton said.

"To get those business in there and let people know that these are the sponsors who are nice enough to help us out.

I have talked to some of the sponsors of the league, and they have said that they have seen a spike in their business."

The PSBL has a steady track record of consistently fielding anywhere from eight to 10 teams. Players compete five-on-five in an 11 game regular season.

The top eight teams with the best records will advance to the double-elimination playoffs.

"We have never had any issues on the court," Middleton said.

"Captains are responsible for assembling their own teams. I have coached high school basketball over the years and encouraged them to come out and play. I really want to consistently have 10 teams.

"The numbers are always consistent every year. I have a handful of players who come from Groton, Leominster, Fitchburg, Townsend and the surrounding area."

Middleton and Lorden have the long-term goal of expanding the league to the surrounding towns.

Games are played at 6 and 7:30 p.m. from June-July, all are welcome to watch.

Follow Ed Niser on Twitter: @EdNiser