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Mentor program plans basketball tourney Saturday

Lincoln County’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program will comestrong to the hoop this weekend when it holds its bigger-than-everbasketball tournament fundraiser.

Maxine Jones, the organization’s southern region programmingmanager, said the annual “Hoops for Kids’ Sake” tournament wouldbegin at 8 a.m. Saturday in the south parking lot in Railroad Park.She said approximately 30 three-man teams will battle to the rim inan effort to raise $10,000 for the program.

“I know it’s a high goal, but we just feel like the people inBrookhaven are going to respond,” Jones said. “We’re looking tohave a fun day hanging out and trying to raise funds to support theprogram.”

The tournament is being held Saturday, almost three monthsbehind schedule.

Jones said the original “Hoops for Kids’ Sake” tournament wasscheduled for March 28, but heavy rains forced itscancellation.

She said rescheduling the games for June alleviates the threatof rain, but brings on the threat of heat. To compensate, 15-minutebreaks will be taken often throughout the tournament.

Vendors will be on hand serving refreshments.

Pushing the games back until June also helped the cause, Jonessaid, because participation has grown amidst prolonged advertising.The tournament has more than 100 players signed up, she said, andteam registration will continue on site.

The tournament is open to children age 8 to adult, and the entryfee is $100 per team, she said. Jones said the tournament would bedivided into age divisions, and the winners in each group will berecognized with trophies.

Jones said donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters, which are taxdeductible, would be accepted at the tournament. The program needsbig money because it has a big job – mentoring to more than 200children in Lincoln County. The program’s annual expense per childis $750, she said.

In the program, high school students and adults serve as mentorsto younger children. Volunteers visit their assigned children intheir schools each week for one hour, helping with class work,tutoring and just encouraging them to succeed.

“These kids are really good kids who just need a positiveinfluence,” Jones said. “We’ve been in Brookhaven nine years, andwhat we have found that absenteeism has decreased, dropout rateshave improved and there’s good behavior and confidence – all thishas improved in the child.”