Hundreds turn out for three-day Hoop-A-Thon Event provides drug-free environment

June 14, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

It looked like a playoff match in the National Basketball Association, with players diving after loose balls and fighting their way under the basket in hopes of getting that key rebound.

But these players are built a lot closer to the ground than Patrick Ewing, of the New York Knicks, or Scottie Pippen, of the Chicago Bulls. And the oldest are only 14.

Eight teams of about 12 boys each spent a sun-filled weekend on an outdoor court playing basketball to rival the NBA, at least to their family and friends.

The young men, representing teams from Glen Burnie, Severn, Severna Park and Annapolis, were participants in the first Capitol City Hoop-A-Thon, a three-day basketball tournament held at Truxtun Heights Park in Annapolis.

Sponsored by the county's Planning Action Committee, The Annapolis Boys and Girls Club and the city's Housing Authority, the tournament was designed to provide the boys and their families and friends with a safe event all could enjoy.

"Our main reason for having the three-day tournament was to provide a drug-free environment for the kids," said Deneice Fisher, one of the organizers. "If we made a penny, fine. But that's not our purpose. We just wanted to have something the kids would enjoy in a family-type atmosphere."

About 750 people turned out for the tournament, which began Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. and ended around sundown yesterday, Ms. Fisher said. The young boys each received a certificate for participating.

The Annapolis All-Stars and Barry's Bulls received trophies for their respective third- and second-place finishes. And the Glen Burnie Rebels received both team and individual trophies for their first-place 59-49 win over the Bulls.

Because this was the first year for the tournament, the participants were limited to boys 14 and under. But Ms. Fisher said she is hopeful the tournament committee will be able to gather sponsors for next year and increase the number and age of competitors.

But there were few complaints at one of yesterday's semifinal games, other than the usual barbs thrown in the direction of the referees. "He must be Stevie Wonder," someone cracked, comparing the referee to the blind pop star when he failed to call a foul.

There was nearly as much action in the bleachers as there was on the basketball court. During yesterday's first game, the Annapolis All Stars and the Bulls -- of Annapolis, not Chicago -- squared off with some help from family and friends.

The boys got almost as much advice from the stands as they did from their coaches on the sidelines. They were told to "tighten up," "hustle," and "get that rebound."

Most of all, however, the young boys received a great deal of encouragement from parents and friends who applauded both their good, and not-so-good, shots.

"The importance of holding an event like this is that it gives our children support from their peers as well as the adults," said Laura Adams, whose 14-year-old son Bryant is a member of the Annapolis All-Stars.

"And just as the kids shake hands with each other after the game, the parents and the people in the stands do the same," she added. "We can yell and support our team. But when it's all over, we get together and congratulate each other. And I think that's just as important for the kids to see."

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