Up & Coming Weekly

January 10, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 16 of 35

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM 2023 MLK DREAM JAM TOURNAMENT PROGRAM UCW 5 Talented public and private high school players across Cumberland County are gearing up to go head to head at the 3rd Annual MLK Dream Jam Basketball Tournament on Jan. 14 and 16. e tournament will again be hosted by Terry Sanford High School. Karl Molnar is the Head Coach of the Varsity Boys team at Terry Sanford, and organizer of the MLK Dream Jam. When asked about last years Dream Jam, he says, "It went very well! Both have been very successful and the turnouts are always good. e compe- tition level is amazing, which is kind of why we started the tournament, because there's so much talent right here in Cumberland County and it's kind of spread out between the public and private schools." Twenty teams will participate in this year's tournament. Eight girls teams will challenge each other on Saturday, Jan. 14, and 12 boys teams will com- pete against each other on Monday, Jan. 16. Cumberland County is special when it comes to how connected our communities are with each other. Talent intertwines here in Fayetteville, and Molnar enjoys getting the kids together in the gym, knowing they're together already outside of it. "ey all grow up in the same neigh- borhoods with each other. We don't get to have public and private schools play throughout the season too often, so it makes for a good event to play your buddy on the other team." Up & Coming Weekly got a chance to interview some of Molnar's top Var- sity players during a Tuesday morning practice, during the school's Christ- mas break. One player in particular, Brady Barns Jr., returned to Terry Sanford this past fall semester as a Junior, with hopes of rebuilding with his friends and returning to what makes basket- ball fun again. Brady says, "I had a good oppor- tunity to play with a big AAU team in Jersey for a couple of years, but I never really got to play with my friends, so I wanted to come back to fill the pieces and be with them." Brady continues," I remember after I came back from Jersey, I came to our first couple of tournaments. I knew everybody, I played with them grow- ing up, I've trained with them. We all worked out together." When it comes to girls basketball, coaches and players agree there could be a lot more attention placed on these young ladies. e numbers for younger girl players around the city are low, and less girls games are being played this tournament. Miya Giles-Jones, a Senior on the Varsity girls team at Terry Sanford, and one of the top players overall in the state, is hopeful for the young talent in the city, and even feels like the girls games are more exciting to watch. "ere should be a way bigger spotlight on the girls, there's a lot of young talent out here that a lot of people don't know about. You have to come out and see it for yourself. If you have a good team and good talent, it's always fun to watch, we should get the same respect as the boys." Miya says. When talking to Roger Paschall, Head Coach of the Varsity girls team at Terry Sanford, he feels that more events focused on girls basketball would help grow the girl basketball scene in the city. "We played in a showcase in the beginning of the year [2022], but it was teams from all over the country," Paschall said. "If we can do some individual girl showcases locally, that would be great. It's important for late elementary and early middle school girls, to come see teams like ours play, and be exposed to this kind of talent". With the Terry Sanford girls team winning the Winter Classic, and their sights set on the state championship, they hope to use the Dream Jam as a stepping stone to grow stronger as a team and show how much more they can achieve. "North Carolina is considered a hoop state," Molnar said. Fayetteville itself, is home to a lot of great basket- ball talent; the two most notable being Dennis Smith Jr., and J. Cole. Smith, who played for Trinity Christian, a pri- vate school in Fayetteville, now plays in the NBA for the Charlotte Hornets. J. Cole, who played for Terry San- ford, public school and home of the Dream Jam, the rap artist, never gave up on his hoop dreams after college and recently played in the BAL for the Rwanda Patriots and for the CEBL Scarborough Shooting Stars. With a couple of Fayetteville's big- gest stars being from a private and public school, Up & Coming Weekly wanted to see how the players used that as inspiration. A Junior on the Varsity boys team, Johnathan Higgins-Simmons says, "ey both showed that there are different ways you can make it out the city. With Cole, he grinded, and put the work in on and off the court. If they can take that motivation for being a dog on and off the court, they can achieve their dreams." Organizers agree that, from the coaches to the players, everyone is looking to the MLK Dream Jam to bring the community to- gether and give the proper exposure to all the young talent that Cumberland County has to offer. Carlos Craig, a Senior at Terry Sanford says, "is tournament is showing that public and private schools can keep up with each other. It's not about one be- ing better than another, it's all good competition." e 3rd Annual MLK Dream Jam will be held at the Terry Sanford Gymna- sium. For those planning to attend, tickets can be purchased at the door. Doors open on Saturday at 10 a.m. and tickets are $10 for the day. Mon- day's match ups start at 8:15 a.m. and are $12 for the day. Four games are scheduled for Saturday and six games are scheduled for Monday. Miller's Crew food truck, Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop and other vendors will be on site to provide food and refreshments. ISAIAH JONES, U&CW Graphic Designer. COMMENTS? editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. MLK Dream Jam: 3rd Annual Basketball Tournament hosts Public vs. Private School showdown on the court by ISAIAH JONES "e beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold." — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Players on the Terry Sanford High School basketball team practice during the holiday break. (Photos by Isaiah Jones)

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