Hoops N Haven rescheduled for March

Published 10:00 pm Saturday, October 3, 2015

It’s an event that has been years in the making. On March 12, J Kelly Ministries is hosting the Hoops N Haven Basketball Tournament at the Lipsey School gymnasium.

It was the deaths of Jevonta Dickey, Shaquan Richardson, and Peyton Flowers that shocked Pastor Jerry Kelly into action.

“I wanted to do something,” Kelly said. “I know a lot of people gave monetary gifts, … but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something that would leave a lasting impression. … I wanted to do something that would commemorate who they were … and leave, even with their peers, a positive example.”

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Kelly said he’s had plans for Hoops N Haven for years, but he hasn’t previously been able to make it work. But Kelly said things really started moving a year ago.

“It was actually scheduled for July 18 of last year, but we had so many deaths and so many killings in Brookhaven – and the last one, Miss Bridget London Hall, she was helping at this tournament … and we lost her to a tragedy, so I just put it on hold. But I still wanted to get this event out, because I believe it would be good for the community.”

Hall was shot on July 6 in her home at Vivian Merritt Street. No arrests have yet been made in the case, though there was a witness that said he saw two men fleeing the scene.

“It affected me because we were close,” Kelly said. “Even though she moved away, we still kept in contact, and when she moved back, when she heard that I was doing it, she wanted to know what other events we could get youth involved in. She came back home ready to get involved with the community. She said, ‘I’m home. What ever you need for me to help you with, whatever you need me to do’, and so when I told her about the tournament, she didn’t hesitate.”

Halls murder affected all of Brookhaven, Kelly said, and recovery will take time.

“She wouldn’t want me to quit. She’d want me to continue and push forward.”

The event had to be postponed, but school officials are still prepared to support the event, according to Kelly.

“The superintendent was still in, and so we decided on March 12, which I believe is a week before spring break. We’re going to host Hoops N Haven and prayerfully it will become an annual event, so that we can do something that will last and be a positive.”

Kelly hopes that they will see participation, not just from Lincoln County, but all of the surrounding counties as well. J Kelly Ministries will be taking a $2 donation for spectators who can pay, and also plans on selling T-shirts.

“We want to make sure that those who would like to participate, that we open up every avenue for them – those who play sports and those who can’t.”

According to Kelly, proceeds will go in part to a Richardson, Dickey, and Flowers scholarship fund, and another portion will go to the Child First Project that helps provide school supplies and clothes to struggling parents.

Kelly said some of the money will also go to planning other events, with the goal of promoting unity in the community.

“I want encourage people that it still takes that village to raise a child,” said Kelly. “That the village is not dead, we just have to pull it back together.”

Planning an event of this size has been a challenge, and Kelly said he’s had lots of support.

“I was able to talk to Mr. Sones at the bank, and he poured a wealth of knowledge in my head … He’s been a great support with me getting this tournament back together,” he said.

Hoops N Haven will have three divisions – a Junior and Senior division for men and an Old School vs. New School division for women. According to Kelly, the idea for the women’s division came from his old classmate Tiffany Gamble.

The Junior division will consist of boys ages 11 through 14, the Senior division will be ages 15 and up, and the Old School vs. New School division will be 24 and under against 25 and up.

For men’s teams, the entry fee will be $125, and women’s will be $75. Winners from each division will be declared Hoops N Haven Champion. The Senior division winner will receive $500, and the women’s division will receive $350. For the Junior division, Kelly is planning on sponsoring a day trip for the kids and their parents.

Editor’s note: The original story misspelled the name of Jevonta Dickey. It has been updated with the correct spelling.