Gastonia police host basketball tournament for youth

Gastonia police are shooting their shot, coming up with a new way to fight crime in their neighborhoods. Friday night they put on a three-on-three basketball tournament from middle school students and high school students at Erwin Park.

Sgt. Adrienne Hall started the tournament Unity in the Community four years ago to keep kids off the street and on the court.

"I found kids just hanging out you know house parties or on the street just don't have anything to do," said Sgt. Hall. "So it's just giving them a place to go and hang out with their friends."

She thinks the tournament opens doors for communication with kids in the community. "They pretty much tell me the things you don't want to hear and the things you do."

Partners like Planet Fitness and the Gastonia Police Foundation think it's a slam dunk, donating water bottles, equipment, and the prize duffel bags full of basketball gear.

"Everyone is cheering and laughing," said Trey Curry who comes back every year. "Well it was fun and baseball wasn't going my way. Ha!"

Ray Mackey says he's gotten to know more police officers patrolling his neighborhood: "I always wave and see how they are doing."

He's become fond of Sgt. Hall. "She is a pretty good role model. She actually was my coach onetime."

Sgt. Hall hopes the program expands and kids get to know more police officers patrolling their streets.