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Competition is slam dunk for Boys & Girls Club

June 27, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Marshall Branch took a few dribbles as he took off from halfcourt. His red sneakers streaked toward the basket.

Then, he jumped.

His legs split to the sides, giving him just enough room to clear the top of Freddie Matthews, who was serving as a prop.

Branch rose toward the rim and ...

Bam!

The lively crowd at the Boys & Girls Club on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown whooped its approval for Branch's one-handed dunk.

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It was one of the highlights of Saturday's Mary Washington 2nd Annual Three Point/Slam Dunk Contest.

Freddie, 16, might have been the only person to miss seeing the thunder dunk. He had his arms tucked to his chest and his head down, with his back to halfcourt, as Branch, 19, sailed over him.

Branch defeated former North Hagerstown High School teammate Bernard Harris and four other high-fliers.

Branch said he plans to play basketball at Hagerstown Community College next semester and study business administration.

Freddie said he wasn't worried because he knew what Branch could do, but Branch admitted that he was nervous.

It was the kind of clean fun and competition the Mary Washington Foundation likes to see.

Already, Dameatric Scott, 14, had won the three-point competition in the seventh- and eighth-grade category and Morgan Smith of Williamsport had won the ninth- and 10th-grade division.

Lee Green of Hagerstown - who played basketball at St. Maria Goretti High School and the University of North Texas - later won the combined 11th- and 12th-grade/college division.

A full-court pickup game was planned for the evening.

Gary Washington said the foundation is named after his mother, who gave as much of herself as she could. She handed out food, clothing and stuffed animals. She baby-sat.

"She started doing work for the Lord. ... All this was on her own," said Gary Washington, 40, the youngest of four siblings.

Mary Washington was 61 when she died in 2001.

The foundation started in 2003. Gary Washington said other components - such as education programs, apprentice programs, free limousine rides and summer camps - have been added.

An important program is the free girls basketball camp every Monday and Wednesday, which might cost $160 to $200 a week elsewhere, he said.

Fund-raising events such as car washes and bake sales keep the foundation going.

"There's nothing unlimited when it comes to the kids. ... We don't make kids pay for anything," Gary Washington said.

He said he and his brothers, Curtis and Jeff, and sister, Venita, want to carry on their mother's spirit.

"Mom laid the foundation and we in it," he said.

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