Nick Perry, CFNN Reporter

January 20, 2020, was a big day in our region for high school sports. An inaugural basketball tournament was held, called the MLK Dream Jam, and was played on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Terry Sanford High School.

This was the first time that a basketball tournament allowed for high school players from both public schools and private schools across Cumberland County, and our region, to compete against each other.

Coach Karl Molnar, the head varsity basketball coach at Terry Sanford High School came up with the idea for the tournament. Coach Molnar attended both private and public schools during his K-12 school experience. 

According to a recent interview in the Up and Coming Weekly for our area, he wanted to “bridge the gap,” between public and private high school athletics, so he came up with the idea of a basketball tournament where both sets of schools had the option to sign up to compete against each other. 

Three of the boys’ public high school teams and three girls’ public high school teams as well as three teams from both boys’ and girls’ private high school teams opted to play in the tournament.

While the results reflected wins by private schools for almost all games played, the tournament was a huge success! In fact, some of you may recognize the names J. Cole and Dennis Smith Jr. from our area. 

J. Cole happens to be one of the top recording rap artists in the world and attended a public school here in Cumberland County, Terry Sanford High School.

Dennis Smith Jr. is an NBA player for the New York Knicks, and he attended a private school here in Cumberland County, Trinity Christian School.

Both of these national figures appeared in a video on Twitter to encourage attendance at the MLK Dream Jam in Fayetteville.

While the Cape Fear boys’ teams did not play in the tournament, the girls’ varsity team did play in the tournament. They played a solid game against Trinity Christian school ending with a score of 59-48.  

This tournament has made history in public and private school athletics, and we hope that this will become an annual event. It’s brought many people together, and that is the heart of all schools.