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By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Deputies and senior officers with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) coached, officiated, and played shoulder-to-shoulder with some 32 Midlands-area teens in the second-annual Youth and Hoops basketball tournament, last Saturday, June 3. And former Gamecock women’s basketball standout Tina Roy – said to be “one of the SEC’s most prolific and accurate three-point shooters” – joined the crowd of approximately 300 (including spectators and participants) encouraging players and emceeing the three-point contest.

“It was a great day in every way for everyone,” says Sergeant Brittany Jackamonis, RCSD public information officer. “Youth and Hoops provided an opportunity for deputies to engage with our young people in a relevant environment, on the basketball court, enabling us to continue connecting and building positive long-lasting relationships with young people and the community.”

Eight RCSD deputies coached four teams of 14-18-year-old ballplayers. And tournament officials – all law enforcement officers with RCSD – were (and are) also certified area-high school basketball refs.

In addition to tournament games and the three-point contest, the event featured food, music, t-shirts and other giveaways for ballplayers and families, prizes, a static display of the RCSD’s OH-58 helicopter, and a performance by the local chapter of the national high school performing arts group ACT-SO (an acronym for Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological & Scientific Olympics).

“Youth and Hoops is but another way in which we are reaching out to our neighbors in the communities we are sworn to protect,” says Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. “This year’s tournament and events – just like last year’s – was a huge success and a lot of fun and excitement for all; exceeding all expectations.”

A partnership between RCSD and the Richland County Recreation Commission, Youth and Hoops was sponsored by Coca-Cola. Food Lion, Publix, Sam’s Club, and Godfrey-Wilson & Associates, among others. The event was held at St. Andrews Park in Columbia.

– Pictured L-R are Tina Roy (also pictured as a guard for the Gamecocks during the 2015-16 season), Master Deputy Keenan Johnson, Deputy Cypheus Bunton, Deputy Michael Lee, and Deputy Alex Hartsel.

[For more information about the Richland County Sheriff’s Dept., please visit http://www.rcsd.net.]

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