Liberty cops to play eighth-grade kids in charity basketball game tonight

Members of Liberty Police Department's "Dream Team" are gearing up for a cops vs. kids basketball game on Thursday night, March 4. Pictured left to right are School Resource Officer Pepper Sterner, Sgt. Christopher Watson, Chief Gary Martin, Officer Dustin Dagenhart and Sgt. Lenard Johnson.

Liberty police officers will compete against youths more than half their age and twice the energy in a charity basketball game Thursday night at the Liberty High School gym. The game will benefit Liberty ISD’s athletic department.

Playing for the Liberty Police Department “Dream Team” will be Sgt. Chris Watson, Officer Adam McBride, Officer Pepper Sterner, Officer Justin McGraw, Officer Cadet Ariel Taylor, Officer Dustin Dagenhart and Dispatcher Salena Rodriguez. They will be coached by Lt. Chip Fairchild and Sgt. Lenard Johnson.

“Chief Gary Martin is our team owner. He’s the CEO of our franchise, so he is going to be sitting in the skybox,” said Sgt. Watson jokingly. “We are going to give our opponents the whooping their parents wish they could. Really this should just be a lot of fun. It’s a good way for us to connect with the kids, especially this age group.”

Watson, who organized the event, is hoping the younger and more agile eighth-grade students on the youth team will not run them up and down the court too much.

“They have a lot of energy, so who knows,” he said.

Watson picked the eighth-grade age group as the ones to play against Liberty PD because he felt those students, in particular, are at a crucial time in their lives where positive exchanges with adults can make a difference.

“From my time of being a school resource officer, I have seen a big change in kids as they go from being an eighth-grade student to a ninth-grade student. Once they get in high school, they don’t seem to be as involved as they were in junior high and it’s a time when they really need it,” he said. “We are going to be actively playing in this game with them. We just are hoping to connect with the kids and have some fun.”

Tickets are $3 for adults and $1 for kids, and may be purchased at the game, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4. For more information, call Liberty PD at 936-336-5666.

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