The Warwick Warriors fifth grade boys travel basketball team recently won the state championship in the Rhode Island Youth Basketball Association’s silver tournament, winning 36-29 in the finals.
After a rocky 2017-18 season in which the Warriors won just four games, they would turn things around this season and hit their peak at the right time in the postseason.
“We started off so-so this season, we would win two or three games, lose a couple. As the season went on the boys got better, they worked hard, they listened, we got into the silver tournament of the playoffs and the boys stepped up. We had some great practices leading up to it, last year they only won four games and this year they won 11, so they really stepped up big,” said Warriors coach Erik Bryson, who saw potential from the early going of the season. “The kids that returned this year, you could feel a new sense of energy. We were much better, even the games that we lost this season we were competitive which was a good sign. They used last year as motivation. Warwick is a big city, we’re trying to get more kids to come out and that can sometimes be difficult to get kids to play for a travel team when they have all these other opportunities out there. This group was close-knit, there were kids from all over Warwick. As the season went on, they definitely came together as a team which was very nice to see.”
Despite a slow start, the Warriors would come together down the stretch to improve each day. Between working on their fundamentals as well as building team chemistry, the Warriors hit their stride at the perfect time.
“It was a gradual improvement. The more they played together, you could see that the ball movement was better, the communication was better. We got snowed out of our last regular season tournament which led to two really good practices. One of the other coaches came up to me and said, ‘These kids are ready.’ Towards the end of the season things really took off and we were confident heading into (the state tournament),” said Bryson.
Winning the silver tournament was a pleasant surprise for the kids, according to Bryson.
“The kids were surprised I think. Obviously last year we lost a lot of games by a lot of points, so having most of the same kids back facing a lot of the same teams, I think they were surprised. I wasn’t surprised, I saw the potential, we brought in some new kids, I knew the kids had it in them,” said Bryson.
The Warriors will now flip the page to 2019-20, and hope to make noise once again as sixth graders.
“Next year will be the sixth-grade team, kids will still have to try out but we hope to have the same group back and to build a tradition here,” said Bryson, who also is excited to help build a foundation for Warwick basketball. “I think it’s huge, you see what Toll Gate did this year, (Pilgrim head coach) Matt Fontaine has expressed an eagerness to work with us, I think it can create a positive snowball effect.”