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Hoops tourney fights crime one shot at a time

Saturday - 9/15/2012, 6:19pm  ET

Thomas Warren, wtop.com

Part of Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring was shut down Saturday afternoon, not because of traffic or construction, but because of kids running around in the street.

In this case though, it was for a good cause.

The closed section of Ellsworth was the site of the 2nd Annual "Audacity of Hoops" 3-on-3 youth basketball tournament.

"The Audacity of Hoops was an idea that we came up with last year, as a response to the youth violence that was occuring in the downtown Silver Spring area," says Montgomery County District 5 Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, a founder of the event.

The first tournament was held in October 2011.

Ervin cited multiple "scary incidents" of youth violence last year that sparked the idea for the tournament, though she didn't give specifics.

A total of 1,797 violent crimes were reported in Montgomery County in 2010, representing 7.9% of all crimes reported in the county that year, according to the Maryland Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention.

This year a girls division was added to the program, a move Ervin believes is a sign that the community has embraced the purpose of the event.

Amasa Edwards, 16, and her teammates, finished in second place, and she enjoyed overall experience.

"I think it opens great doors, of course, teams, and the girls to get to know each other," says Edwards, a senior on the Spring Grove High School basketball team.

Her team plans to return next year to claim the first place prize.

For Ibrahim Basma, 17, and his band of basketball brothers, they showed up to have fun, but winning was the main objective.

"Basketball is our key to everything," says Basma. "Just like education, basketball is our life out here."

The tournament ran from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and also included free-throw, and slam dunk contests.

Ervin says discussions have begun among Montgomery, Howard, and Prince George's Counties to possibly expand the tournament in 2013.

She says the leaders from all three counties will iron out a plan that is in the best interest of the children.

"I think it's really good for young people to see there's another way to build community," Ervin says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)