The Williamson Warriors concluded their season Feb. 5 with a 55-53 win over Canton. The win was a positive finish to a rough season, Williamson finished the season with a 3-19 record. Coach Levi Howe took time out of his schedule to discuss the Warriror’s season and what the future holds.
When asked if the team finished where he expected Howe said, “Coming in to the season, I really tried to have no expectations. Being that this was my first year with the team, I wasn’t totally sure what to think, especially when it came to our opponents. I had goals that I hoped to reach, but I mainly wanted the players to come together as a team and play hard for one another. Only four varsity players returned from the 2017-2018 season, which is a lot of production to replace. I am incredibly proud of the way our team worked in practices and games this year to become not only better players, but also better teammates. I think that everyone would have liked to win more games, but I am proud of the effort our players put forth.”
After his first season with Williamson coach Howe was asked what was his biggest takeaway. Howe referenced John Wooden who said, “Little things make the big things happen.” Howe added, “If you were to have been in our locker room this season during a halftime or at the end of a game, there is a very good chance that I would have used this quote from the late, great John Wooden. Basketball is a game composed of little things; little things like free throws, boxing out, good passes and drawing charges are often times the difference between winning and losing. From a coaching perspective, the right substitution or play call in a critical moment can swing a contest to either the win or loss column. I hope that our players learned this year that little things, both in life and in basketball, matter.”
After a tough season where the Warriors lost 19 games Howe was asked what was the most difficult thing the team had to go through. Howe said, “Losing is tough. Harsh words and criticisms are difficult to take. I think, though, the most difficult thing we had to deal with this year was disappointment. This year provided each and every member of our team, from the players to the coaches to the parents and fans, with certain levels of disappointment.”
Howe added “Players want to play in the games, score points, and get rebounds and steals. Parents want to watch their sons accomplish those feats on the floor. Coaches want to win and be encouraged. The fans want to watch a thrilling contest each time they come to the gym.
At some time or another, the game of basketball, and sport in general, is not going to be exactly as we hoped. Players will miss shots and turn the ball over. Parents will watch their son sit on the bench. Coaches will lose games, and the fans will watch a bad contest. Often times, those things are out of our control. What we can control, however, is how we respond to those challenges of disappointment. My charge to the team throughout the year was to respond in the correct way. Respond in a way that you can be proud of. Part of the reason that I love basketball so much is because there are many life lessons that can be learned within the confines of the game. Hopefully, responding with character in times of disappointment was one of them.”
Despite the difficulties of this season there is optimism for the future. When asked about players to be on the lookout for next season coach Howe responded by saying, “Although we do lose four seniors from this year’s team, we will be returning some very good basketball players. Kolby Allen and Carter Strange both averaged over 10 points per game this season as starters, and I expect them to progress going into their senior years. I am also very excited about the progression of our returning guards. Brennan Bolt and Owen Gontarz both had a few starts this year and played excellent minutes for us. They should both contribute in big ways next year.”
Next season coach Howe believes the Warriors can qualify for districts. Coach Howe added, “I would like to take a moment to give a huge thank you to Coach Lee Strange for all that he did during the basketball season. He is incredibly invested in the welfare of the team and gives of himself on a daily basis to help the team succeed.”
Howe said, “He works on the weekends (saving lives as a flight nurse) and uses vacation days during the week in order to be at practice and games throughout the season. He makes sure that the concession stand is stocked, he rides the bus to away games in order to help me out, and he provides important ideas and information during the varsity games. All this while doing a fantastic job coaching and developing the skills of our Junior Varsity team. He would do anything for anyone at any time and we are very fortunate to have him.”