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Murphy swipes Warrick’s spotlight

Frank Murphy’s buzzer-beating three-pointer capped an entertaining night at the Peter Warrick Celebrity Basketball game Saturday at the Sun Dome.

Murphy, a wide receiver for the Buccaneers, took the inbounds pass with three seconds to go on the right wing, spun to his left and hit a fading three-point shot as time expired to give his Grey team an 88-85 victory in the second annual Peter Warrick Celebrity Basketball Classic. The proceeds from the game went to benefit the 13th Avenue Community Center in Bradenton.

In addition to the game, the event featured exhibitions from the Champs Sports High Impact dunkers, the 2002 Southwest Florida High School Slam Dunk Championship featuring numerous Hillsborough County prep stars and halftime musical performances.

Murphy was the star of the night though, as his buzzer-beater knocked off Warrick’s Black team in spectacular fashion. That wasn’t Murphy’s only highlight of the night, as 30 seconds earlier he hit a three after stopping on a dime and pivoting a complete 360 degrees to tie the score at 83.

“This was my game,” Murphy said. “I’m sorry P, but I had to take it over.”

The crowd of 5,502, including USF athletes like Marquel Blackwell, Clenton Crossley and Dione Smith, watched as NFL players Daunte Culpepper, Dexter Jackson, Sam Cowart, Edgerrin James and Shaun King, among others, took to the court to support Bradenton’s historic 13th Avenue Community Center.

“I’m going to relax and have a good time,” Blackwell said. “Maybe I’ll be in it next year.”

The center was founded 64 years ago by civil rights activist Minnie Rogers, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and famous educator Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. Warrick attended the center as a kid before he went on to star in football at Bradenton’s Southeast High School and Florida State. He’s currently a wide receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals. More than 600 children attend programs at the center each month.

“Yeah, I think it went real well tonight,” Warrick said.

Last year’s inaugural game was held at Southeast, and the attendance was more than enough to sell out the high school gym so this year’s game was moved to the Sun Dome to accommodate more fans.

“It got started late, but it was great, and it really allowed people to come together,” said Patrick Carnegie, executive director for the 13th Avenue Community Center. “Moving from the high school venue, you want to make sure all things go well, and I think it did. It definitely all worked out for the best, and we made some money for some very needy kids.”

Also among the NFL stars participating was USF graduate Anthony Henry, now a member of the Cleveland Browns. Henry scored nine points for the Grey team and said that after a fantastic rookie season for the Browns, in which he tied for the league-lead in interceptions with 10, that he’s finally feeling like a celebrity.

“A little bit,” Henry said. “But I was just out to have a good time and help out a charity (Saturday). I was glad to do my part. I have a little bit of skills. I played in high school, but mostly I was just trying to be careful.”

In addition to the stars of the NFL, the game also featured Light Heavyweight Champion Roy Jones Jr., who many call the best boxer pound-for-pound in the world. Jones is no stranger to basketball, having played professionally in the United States Basketball League. He has also embarked on a singing career.

“I came out and did all right,” Jones said. “I enjoyed myself, and that’s what it’s all about – enjoying yourself and entertaining the fans.”

The halftime entertainment saw the Champs Sports High Impact trio dazzle the crowd with its array of dunks, using trampolines for extra effect. In the high school dunk contest, Plant’s Kyle Knecht tossed the ball to himself and turned it into a reverse two-handed dunk to better Robinson’s Arnaldo Abreu and Marcus Morrison of state champion Lakewood for the title.