CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With just over a week left before both squads' exhibition games, the Charlotte basketball programs helped build excitement among Niner Nation with the annual Basketball Madness event Thursday night in Halton Arena.

Hosted by alum Garrett Bedenbaugh, the fun-filled evening included team introductions, student contests, coach free throw challenge, a player 3-point shootout, skills competition and a slam dunk contest.

Alan Major slipped past Cara Consuegra, 4-to-3, earning the most free throw conversions among five attempts for the respective head coaches.

In the 3-point contest, players had 45 seconds to convert as many triples as possible. Hillary Sigmon outshot Ben Cherry 10-to-3 to win the event.

The skills challenge featured dribbling between cones, then knocking down a 3-pointer and layup before riding a kids' tricycle back to midcourt. The player who did it the fastest was Ayanna Holmes, defeating Braxton Ogbueze.

The final player involvement segment was the slam dunk contest. Shawn Lester wowed the audience, earning three-straight 50-point scores from the judges who consisted of Niner Nation Gold members and Norm. His acrobatic display easily outscored the efforts of teammates Mason Wyrick and Reid Aube. Willie Clayton attempted one dunk but managed only a 37.

All in all, the event helped fuel excitement for the upcoming seasons. The 49ers cheerleaders and Gold Dusters dance team also performed.

Tickets for the basketball seasons are available by logging onto or by calling 704.687.4949. 

The teams play host to an exhibition doubleheader next Saturday, Nov. 2. The women welcome Johnson C. Smith at 2 p.m., while the men will face Wingate at 4:30 p.m.